while Love goes

Christmas, for me, is about one enormous gift.

On 12/24/08 I wrote,
"I love to imagine the unexpected fulfillment of love that first Christmas, breathing for the first time in the manger. His love filled the air like a scent, and moved through the people who came to touch Him. Love was all around."

Today the boys and I were driving slowly through the dirty and snowy streets to make our way to a new place to eat. We were going to pick up lunch and then head home. I was going to take a break from opening the fridge and staring at its contents for too long, wondering what to make for meal 2 of 3 in this day.

I had my heart set on something fresh and healthy and it felt like a gift, to not have to make it myself. But the parking lot was full, very very full and so I drove through it to go around the block while hoping someone would leave an open space in the meantime. And as I drove I was thinking about other gifts, these amazing gifts I'm continuously given in my life, and the way that I deal with those gifts.

Why is it never enough? I thought. Because I've been in this funk and maybe it's just this time of year and how I've been reflecting on nearly a year of sober living and it's all so much and so heavy sometimes. There are Big Gifts, yes. I see them and I appreciate them and sometimes I still feel so...wrong. Or maybe like the other shoe is going to drop, that thing. Maybe I'm doing that thing, in which I wait for the shoe and shake in my boots rather than just relaxing and being...happy. Maybe it's that, I thought.

And then I said to myself, It's Christmas, it's here and I see the enormous gift and I see all these other gifts and everything in me wants to push it all away.


Then it hit me and I couldn't believe how simple and obvious it was.
I'm afraid I'm going to screw it up somehow. I'm going to trample on these gifts. I've been really really good at doing that in this life.

I do this thing where I start to believe that I won't do right by my kids or my husband, and I won't get this book thing to come together, never sending even a page to my agent. I'm going to screw it up, I thought.

I've always been so afraid of throwing away gifts because before life with my own family and then even after that gift, I threw away so much. I withdrew, that's what I knew to do. And old habits die hard and sometimes now I still withdraw and I coil up and turn inside myself and I can't look at anyone. I say, Wash your hands-I already asked you twice-wash your hands and Put your coat on-put your coat on-put your coat on-I'm not going to say it again-put your coat on. And I don't like the ugly in my voice and I think it means that I'm failing, that I'm screwing up all my gifts. I watch myself do so much trudging and I figure my value is dropping with every moment that passes in which I do not just buck up already.

But today as I drove around the block, trying to find my way to one small gift of food, I remembered the most enormous gift in my life, this expression of Redemption that came so small and it's free and I complicate it. I can feel it, this love so enormous, sucking the ugly out of the universe like a well-meaning cobra and taking care of me while it goes.


We're back home now and I've eaten my healthy and fresh. A small gift in a hard day. All my angst and hurt, my thoughts, they are prayers and I've been heard amidst the clamor. So in the next three or so days before the Enormous Gift Christmas Day, I'll be doing some metaphorical driving around the block, not turning in and away in fear, but anticipating and believing that there's a place of receiving, just for me.

from 12/24/08~
"He brought a love that only He possessed, one that most people had quickly forgotten how to live. It was the gift of all He embodies, a love beyond our comprehension. One that reaches past our despairing seas, pushes through our hate and anger, and fills us up with love. What a perfect gift."


Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds:

"So I'm told, or so the story goes
the people he knew were less than
golden hearted
gamblers and robbers,
drinkers and jokers
All soul searchers
Like you and me
Like you and me"

His heart was full of love
love, love, love
love, love, love...
love was all around

Merry Christmas, friends.

18 clicked right here to comment:

LutherLiz said...

When I get new clothes I avoid wearing them for far to long because I am certain I will spill something on them when I do. I put off the joy of experiencing them because of fear of my messing it up.

I do that a lot...choosing fear over the freedom that God's gift of grace should bring. Thank you for the reminder today. Merry Christmas.

You are a gift to me!

Anonymous said...

You can't don't you see? Screw it up. You can't because you can't erase that goodness inside you. It's there plainas can be for all of us to see, and I'm certain to those boys who you hold so dear. How do I know this? I read it in your every word. It matters too much to you. And because I know what it is to be your own harshest critic. You are an amazing woman. Trust me.

Heather of the EO said...

Thank you both.

Yes. I'm learning. SO slowly, but learning, to see the goodness first and let love fill in all my spaces. Harshest critic. Indeed. I'm quite tired of it, actually. Thank you for seeing what I forget to see sometimes. xoxo

5thsister said...

I so understand. We fail to see in ourselves the "gift" we are to others. I was reminded that by a special friend this past weekend.

God bless you and congrats as you near your sobriety birthdate. (I just passed my 4 month!)

One Crafty Mother said...

Oh, I get it. You know I do.

This post is a gift, because as usual you express beautifully what is pinging around in my head.

Your spirit is so loving and bright and beautiful - you came from love and you are made of love and you give love.




Heidi said...

It is very easy for most of us to not receive the Gift in our lives. Screwing up is why we have the Atonement because none of us are NOT going to screw it up. Having said, there are still consequences to screwing things up that can be very hard to live with, discouraging, disappointing, frustrating and so maddening because we should have known better. But, you are aware of all of that and being aware is half the battle. You are strong (which doesn't mean perfect or always good or right or not screwing up), strong enough to make it. And when you get there and look back you will be so amazed that you climbed something so big. And then you'll look ahead and be amazed that there's an even bigger one ahead. Because there ALWAYS is. It's Why. We're. Here. And why He came.

L.T. Elliot said...

I understand this--this fear of trampling or screwing it all up. Sometimes it paralyzes me from doing anything at all. Like I can't breathe or move because it might shatter all around me.

Thank you for reminding me to see the gift, to just accept it with grace and gratitude.

Merry Christmas, Heather.

Alita said...

"Wash your hands-I already asked you twice-wash your hands and Put your coat on-put your coat on-put your coat on-I'm not going to say it again-put your coat on"

Are you a skip in a vinyl record? I know that I am. And I hear the ugly in my voice, too. However it is not a waste of my gift or yours. Instead it is the fragility of our humanity that makes us feel this way. We were not born to be perfect. We were born to live and learn. As long as you are learning in the process everything is going to be alright. God is the only perfect thing in this world. We can aspire to be, but our gifts are not wasted if we do not achieve all that we set forth with. Drive safely with those thoughts. Enjoy all the fullness in your life that you have created and what your children provide! :)

Merry Christmas Heather!

deb said...

I feel so blessed to be able to come here. To hear your real . To hear and feel the real of the comments.

I was telling someone that I would have all five kids home for the holidays soon and didn't I just love that I get to create all of these memories for them?

and I've been just holding back tears and fighting my ugly , because sometimes that terrifies me . What do I know about doing this?

Corinne said...

I love that song...
And this post.
And you :)
Merry Christmas, Heather.

rebecca @ altared spaces said...

Receiving. Yep. A tricky one. Why do I resist receiving? My life is full, full I tell you, of gifts it wants to give to me. And I close the door. I shut them out.

Receiving takes a special softness in my heart. I am learning about it. What do I need to surrender in order to receive?

It's a small sort of resistance that I use to push my life away. "No thanks," I say to the errand that would make my life easier. "Oh don't bother," I say to the woman who wants to help with my dishes.

I can simply welcome. I've been trying to say "Thank you," and that helps me soften the resistance. "Thank you," I say when someone offers to hold open the door extra long for me, or even to make the extra trip to the car with me. "Thank you," helps me melt the resistance I sometimes feel.

This is a post that makes me soften. Like so many you write. I'm learning to let all of it in.

Thank you.

Mackenzie said...

Beautifully said. Reminds me of hitting the one-year funk. It's like...is this it, I'm supposed to be fixed! lol, what instant gratification I demand...I promise, it does get better, hang in there and hit up a meeting:)

Dangerous Linda said...

"impartial self-observation" is the "gift" we give ourselves to grow with ... you seem very good at that ... as long as the ego doesn't take over and turn it into "impractical self-crticism" ... thank you for sharing yourself so authentically!

Wendi@Every Day Miracles said...

You are amazing. I'm still in awe of your ability to articulate what is going on in all of our brains. :) Love you!!

Laura@ Life Overseas said...

Just visited here via Christmas Change. Love your site and the power of your words. I can hear the true gift of the craft of writing, and it's beautiful and articulate and meaningful. Thanks for sharing it with us . . .

I'll be back to visit again, soon . . .

Merry Christmas from Thailand,


sara said...

this was so good...and I think we have all been there at some time or another.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!!! May it be blessed and filled with the JOY His gift brings!!

Kristen @ Motherese said...

From where I'm sitting, you're doing far more right than wrong. You are a wonderful, gentle, thoughtful mother, a gifted writer, and a generous friend.

My wish for you this Christmas is the grace to know your strengths as well as you know your weaknesses (and if you have any of that grace left over when you're done with it, please send it back to me. I could use a serving as well).

Merry Christmas, lady!

Elaine A. said...

What you wrote two years ago is so amazing. Just thinking about His first breath is SO profound. Merry Christmas!!!!

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