My Christmas Story

Christmas. The day we Christians celebrate as Jesus Christ’s birthday.

Christmas. The season in which almost everyone overspends on gifts that the receiver probably doesn’t need. It’s the season of carols and bells, laughter, joy, family, friends, too much food, and delicious homemade treats. It usually brings out the best in people. It’s also the holiday that I mostly hate.

I say mostly because there are some parts of the season that I really do like. I love the lights and decorations, the music, the Advent season, the candlelight service on Christmas Eve…I love all of that. What I hate is the shopping and spending money on gifts that no one really needs, I hate the expectation that I have to provide presents at all. It’s a crazy tradition that I have struggled understanding for the past several years. I mean, really…why do I have to buy presents at all for my family and/or friends? Doesn’t it defeat the purpose of focusing on the birth of Christ and the Hope of salvation the he provides?

I’ve spent a lot of time this season really contemplating this tradition (all while still shopping for the perfect gifts for my kids). I began to have a glimmer of revelation this morning as I was searching for a photo to share on my social media pages to mass-wish a Merry Christmas to my friends and family.

I was tempted to post simple “Merry Christmas” and leave it at that, after all I am a self-proclaimed Grinch during the Christmas holiday, but I wanted the Christmas wish to represent something that is important to me during this holiday so I continued searching until I landed on this photo:

Something about this photo spoke to me. I would even say that I felt compelled to share this particular photo. The more I looked at it, the clearer the message became. I knew that this was the photo- the answer- that I had been looking for.

I decorate the Christmas tree as a representation of a gift I would give to Jesus (and as the budget allows) if he were here. Admittedly, most years I feel like I’m the poor shepherd boy with nothing to give except my song. This year is not very different except that this photo speaks volumes. It shows the Nativity lighted by the bright star that shines down to form the shape of a Christmas tree. The focus of Christmas is Jesus Christ. Everything else is secondary. Which made me think of the presents that adorn the floor under the tree.

When Jesus was born, people from all social classes came from far away to bring gifts to Christ the King. It really is no different today as we decorate the Christmas tree in celebration of Christ’s birthday and we buy gifts out of love for others to give to them. That’s why people brought gifts to the King. They loved him. Since we cannot physically give gifts to Christ whom we love and adore, we spread the love of Christ by giving those gifts under the tree to those whom we love.

I’m doing a terrible job of explaining my Christmas Revelation, but maybe it won’t matter as this revelation is mine. The message is loud and clear to me. God has revealed this little tidbit about Christmas to my searching heart, and I am grateful.

I still don’t enjoy shopping, but maybe I will hate it less next season. Maybe then I will be less of a grinch because I will have learned the same lesson that Seuss’ Grinch learned:

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,

stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

(“How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, Dr. Seuss)

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Here I sit…

Here I sit contemplating life and my place in it.

Yes, I’m depressed, anxious, unsatisfied, tired, lonely. But why? Why am I these things?

Depression seems to be a constant state of being for me. It’s just that some days are better than others.

Lately, the better days are nonexistent, and I’m tired of fighting this war inside my head. But who is going to want to listen to me explain all of it? Surely not my friends, not my coworkers, not the preacher or associate pastor, not my family…I have no one and this blog.

What a very lonely place to be.

How do I begin to explain how 16 years of marriage nearly killed me? How do I begin to explain that the marriage I escaped almost six years ago still haunts me to this day? How do I begin to explain that I’m tired of being told how awful and mean a human being I am? How do I explain the hurt when the ex-husband gets everything he wants by doing nothing while I have to work almost 200 hours per month just to put food on the table? How do I explain the I’m teetering on the edge of giving up because I’m at the end of my rope?

I’m so very tired.

Until tomorrow…when it starts again.

I’ll never get it right

According to the preacher’s sermon today on family, I’ll never get it right. First, I’m a single parent. Secondly, I’m a divorced single parent, which compounds the problem.

Because I’m a single parent, the chances of me being able to give my kids everything they need are slim. Because I’m a divorced single parent, not only am I not able to provide for my kids they are also doomed for life because they dont have what only a dad can give them – and somehow that’s my fault. It doesn’t have anything to do with their dad choosing not to be involved in their lives for anything more than a financial contributor.

I’ve been a divorced single mom for the past six years and have tried my best to instill a sense of family (through the church), and a sense of service and work by example. I have good kids who are willing to help when asked, and occasionally on their own. I’m proud of them for that. It’s disheartening to think that they are doomed to marital failure all because they don’t have a positive male influence in their lives everyday.

If God can, then why doesn’t he step in and fill in the gap so that my kids can succeed in their current and future relationships?

Unlovely mess

It’s been awhile since I’ve truly experienced a closeness with God, a relationship where I feel him wrap his arms around me and just hold me while my heart silently pours itself out to him in a desperate plea for anything that would let me know that he is near. Sure, I know how to see God’s hand in circumstances. I know that he moved me from the apartment that my kids and I were in into a much larger rent house. I know that he has provided a way for the increased rent to be paid for a year. And I’m finally seeing why God moved me from the job at the church that I loved into my current job, but even in all of that my heart is empty. I long for it to be full. I long to feel love and to feel loved.

I don’t know if I’ll ever experience that emotion again.

We live in a society when experience no longer matters. Where education is key to life itself. The more you have, the best you are, apparently. One’s value to others is measured by a piece of paper. If one happens to possess both, how fortunate for them.

In the meantime, the rest of us aren’t worthy to be dirt on the bottom of a shoe.

#MeToo

#MeToo is the latest social media awareness to sweep the nation. In light of the breaking news stories of a prominent Hollywood producer sexually assaulting actresses of many ages over the years, one of those actresses began this #MeToo movement to show other women that they are not alone. Even though I am a victim of childhood sexual assault, I didn’t jump on the #MeToo bandwagon until I read another blog on the issue. That author broadened the spectrum by including female victims of sexist remarks or actions validated with personal stories. I don’t think there’s a woman alive who could say she hasn’t been a victim of sexism in America. Women generally have been and continue to be thought of as the weaker sex, one whose ideas or thoughts are as important as a man’s, one who is belittled simply because.

It hit me this morning that #MeToo is not too different than Black Lives Matter and those NFL players who have taken a knee during the National Anthem for the past year or so. Their purpose is to show oppression of people of a different skin color. #MeToo’s purpose is to show the oppression of women.

Historically, black people were owned and sold as slaves by predominately white men, beaten and abused for anything their owners could blame them for. Women are beaten today, but we call it domestic abuse, and women are sexually abused in word and action simply because we are seen as objects to be used as men see fit.

Oppression in America is alive and well, and it needs to come to an end. America is supposed to be about equality, opportunity and freedom, but oppression limits those things. I am writing this today to say, I am aware of oppression in America and am against it, but I refuse to take a knee on this one. I choose to stand as one who is equal to my male counterparts. As I said in a previous blog, we don’t bow down to any man, woman or country, so I choose to stand.

#Iamastander

Alone in a crowded room

Well, here I am. 40-something years old. Single/divorced mom of two teens. Two Associates degrees, a low paying full-time job, a mountain or two of student loan debt, and until yesterday, homeless at the end of this month. The only way to get ahead is to cheat the system – which I won’t do because 1) that’s not how I operate, and 2) I’d be the one to get caught. It’s better to just be honest from the beginning. Seriously, I don’t know what I have to do to get ahead in this world.

I’ve worked overtime, two jobs and at times three jobs just so I can feed my kids, pay my bills and put gas in my car, but it’s still not enough. I’ve done what I know to do. Work, get on top of my finances, tithe, go to church, volunteer, take care of my kids, be nice to people, pray, read my Bible (not enough, sadly), but it’s not enough. I can’t get ahead.

So I ask you, what do I have to do to stop being stuck where I am? I have two associates degrees (one in accounting), and I worked as a bookkeeper for five and a half years before I was laid off because of restructuring (seems everybody and anybody can do bookkeeping work, so they didn’t need me), but it means nothing. I also worked as a financial secretary (administrative assistant) for a year but was “encouraged” to find something with benefits. I thought things were going well, and I was told that I wasn’t being fired, but it sure seemed and felt like it. Anyway, I found a full-time job with some benefits but for less money. So, I didn’t move up, I just moved on. The only people who were happy about that was my former employer. (insert sad, hurt, and angry emojis here).

I feel like an absolute failure as a mom, as a provider, as an employee, as a friend…maybe I am. Nobody wants me. I can’t keep a husband, I can’t keep a job, I can’t keep a house or apartment…I’ll never learn to be Ruth.

#hopeless #helpless #pitiful