Christmas is a trigger for me. I get all looped around myself in my longing for deep and meaningful traditions. I get sideways in longing to provide for my family what I never had. And there lies the double edged sword. I actually can’t provide something I have not received.
Although triggering, Christmas is also usually a harbinger of joy. Because somewhere in my Christmas longing, Jesus is born again in the stable of my heart.
This past Christmas Eve, Jesus came in the form of my 9-year old. He is the exclamation point of the Dyer family. We started a new tradition. We volunteered at one of our church’s Christmas Eve services. That might not sound like a big deal. But for us it is. We have a life-time of loss and brokenness connected to church. It’s too long of a story to tell here, but just know, stepping in to volunteer was like signing up for little league after be abused by your former little league coach.
We attended the service prior to our volunteer service. We sat way in the back. It was full. The service was lovely. Our pastor was authentic. The music was beautiful. There was even an original song that held the depth of Christmas without platitudes. During the service, the pastor asked all the kids up front and read them a book. Our 9-year-old is a hoot. Our older kids would have been too shy to walk up front unless they were in their sibling pack. This little guy just looked at all the rest of us and said, “I’m going up.” He marched up there in front of a church of 400+ like he didn’t have a care in the world.
The story was cute and interactive and held the whisper of Jesus. It was also friendly for children who might not know Jesus. At one point, the pastor read a page that said, “And Jesus was born for you!” Our little guy replied very loudly, “I know!”
The pastor laughs. The church laughs. We laugh.
Which is in itself a little miracle. Because what Gryff did could be seen as disrespectful. If my oldest had done that instead of my youngest, I would have been so embarrassed and had a stern conversation about being respectful.
But I laughed along with the rest of the crowd with zero embarrassment.
The funny thing is, I know Gryff wasn’t being disrespectful. He was trying to articulate, “We are here on Christmas Eve because Jesus came! Why are you telling me he came?” Not in snarky little kid arrogance but bewilderment. Sort of like “I know the sky is blue, why would you tell me it is blue?”
Gryff came back to sit with us and at the end of the service, the pastor asked if anyone wanted to receive Jesus. And led those who did through a simple prayer. We all had our eyes closed and he asked those who were children to let their adults know that they had received Jesus. Gryff leaned over to me and said, “I raised my hand.” After the service, I said to Gryff, “I’m so glad you raised your hand, but you have had Jesus in your heart for a long time.” I just wanted to clarify because I remember the 5 year-old in the back of the car who asked Jesus to be with him. Gryff looked at me and said, “I know. I’ve done it like 5 times.” I just grinned and said, “You can never have too much Jesus.” Gryff nodded and smiled with his twinkly eyes gleaming.
Again, as a younger mom with my oldest, I probably would have worried that I hadn’t explained that you can’t lose Jesus. That you don’t need to ask him in a million times.
But now? I get it.
I want to ask Jesus in again too. And sometimes I do. He is already and always with me. But sometimes I forget. Sometimes I don’t feel he is. And sometimes I’m just so lonely I need more Jesus.
For me this Christmas, Jesus was born again in my heart as I witnessed my joy-bomb 9-year-old be himself. And as I witnessed myself be a miracle of acceptance not judgment. It takes a long time to become a good-enough mom. And this Christmas I was one.