There was a time my mama didn’t like Christmas much and she likes most every day just fine and dandy, thank you very much.
Those totes full of Christmas ornaments and decor and all the fixing that fine folks apparently fill their attics with?
Yeah, we never had any of those.
Trimming any mantle in pungent pine garlands and crushed velvet bows and white pillar candles?
Four seasons of the year, what hung over our fireplace was one fake pioneer wooden rifle made in China that Dad bought in some Texas interstate gift shop and hauled the 1,500 miles home like he could make up our family history. Masking grief and depression can take on a thousand different masks and you can forget how to freely breathe and the contours of your own face.
I never saw anyone string up any lights until the faces of my own children stood wide-eyed in their glow. When I was a kid, a kid got thrown across a floor on Christmas day. A door got screwed shut and we all kept our mouths shut.
My people bear scars and there are days we still limp like we’ve lost bits of ourselves and any good and godly sense of balance.
You have no idea how many people feel kinda heart-cut watching other people trim their trees.
Because people can read Christmas as shorthand for family — and when you’re family is kinda broken, Christmas can long break your heart.
Now my Mama didn’t tell me this, but I think she would sign off on it now: Dysfunction is too often a function of denying brokenness.
And I’d testify on any stand: You begin to receive the gift of wholeness when you tell the truth of your brokenness.
I steadied our leaning tree yesterday in the thick twilight and one by one, hung up our ornaments, all the Truth-telling ones that tell The Greatest Story Ever Told, and it steadied me, holding pieces of a story, of a family three that grafts in all the busted: the ones about creation and the ark and the ten commandments that are really ten love vows, and the one of Rahab holding on to one red rope.
That woman who looks up in her godless mess and sees the tenderness of God. In a place of faithlessness, doubtfulness and godlessness — God gives God.
His Presence is always the gift you don’t know you need the most — until you’re in the most need.
And Rahab, the woman with a scarlet past, steps out not in competence but in faith, and great faith is the greatest equalizer, the greatest eraser and the greatest definer.
And the family tree of Christ startlingly notes not one woman but four. Four broken women—women who felt like outsiders, like has-beens, like never-beens.
Women who were weary of being taken advantage of, of being unnoticed and uncherished and unappreciated; women who didn’t fit in, who didn’t know how to keep going, what to believe, where to go—women who had thought about giving up.
And Jesus claims exactly us who are wandering and wondering and wounded and worn out as His. He grafts us into His line and His story and His heart, and He gives us His name, His lineage, His righteousness.
He graces even us, especially us, with healing grace.
He gives The Wonder of The Greatest Gift: No more situation is more hopeless than our Saviour is graceful.
No family or personal choice that’s muddied a life can ever outdo God’s choice to wash everything in that life with grace.
All out the windows to the east, the evening light exhales into stars. And I hang the last of the Truth-Telling ornaments for this renamed and reclaimed family, the star at the top.
This is a romanced universe and the Lover of our souls traces our scars with the tenderest grace and love lives given and He lives to give to us and gifts are our air.
People may say: You’ve got to do all these horse and pony impressive things to show you matter.
His presence says: You’ve got Me and I’ve already done everything that matters so all you have to do is just show up.
People may say: Bust your chops to earn acceptance.
His presence says: I broke my heart on that cross and I accept you fully and make you more than fully acceptable so bust all the lies that keep cutting you down.
People may say: You aren’t enough for us or you’re too much for us.
His presence says: You are Beloved to Me — so who cares how others write you off when I have your very name written into the palm of My hands.
People may say: You’re so far behind the eight ball, you might as well give it up.His presence says: Live given — and your whole world becomes a gift you open up.
For us outliers, us busted and bruised and brazenly brave people — His presence proves to be the gift that says there is nothing to prove.
Our tree stubbornly leans a bit in all of its lit glory and I step back, kinda relieved. I think I’m stubbornly okay with surrendering to that.
And maybe sometimes how we Give It Forward Today and choose to Be the G.I.F.T — is just this:
Give yourself the gift of grace that He already has.
Couldn’t love all you Gifters more — such people.
Give yourself the gift of grace that He already has — and give yourself the beauty of Be the Gift. Grab the bracelet too? The BeTheGIFT bracelets were designed and made by Fashion & Compassion – which creates employment communities where vulnerable women connect with God, one another and resources to transform their lives. Women from Ecuador, Mexico and Charlotte were loved and empowered through the opportunity to make these bracelets. Even by wearing the message of #BeTheGIFT — you choose to #BeTheGift and change the world!