I don’t know how your holiday celebrations usually pan out, but yuletide mishaps occur in my life in similar frequency to other seasons of the year. I’m not complaining because I’ve learned much through these picture-imperfect years. Not to be outdone, the Crum Christmas of 2016 provided its own special wisdom.
First of all, a holiday get-away this year sounded especially nice because several new health problems have challenged our family in the last few months, and I was looking for some respite. So on Christmas morning our family of four embarked on a six-hour road trip to visit relatives. The adventure began when our older daughter, Katie, vomited three hours into the journey. I’ll let you imagine the details that parenthesized this event as we drove down a major interstate in California. The offending virus waylaid youngest daughter, Madeline, two days later, followed by my husband and finally me. All of us bit the dust before New Year’s Eve, although the flu was interrupted by some nice moments with family, I must admit. Some respectable family bonding still occurred, but to be honest most of us were more focused on disinfecting the house than on the joy of Christ’s birth.
After this turn of events, our first morning home from “Christmas vacation” was a relief. I set out to accomplish much—to put life back in order. As I do every morning, I pulled open the blinds to our backyard view of the Sacramento River. What I saw was a layer of fog resting over the water that spanned my view. I could see the haze of tree-tops on the far bank, but the remaining expanse was amazing gray mist. This is not atypical during winter in Northern California, but that morning it stopped me in my tracks. It was not that it was more beautiful than usual. I was drawn to the sight simply because God directed my attention toward the majesty of His creation—and how much bigger He is than me. I wanted nothing but to see that covering of fog and to feel the smallness of my being. Not small in a demeaning sort of way—but in relief that He is always more. More than circumstances. More than success or failure. More.
Beneath that fog lay many things that I love—running water, rocks, bushes, jumping fish, ducks, deer, the occasional otter, etc. I couldn’t see them clearly under that majestic gray cloak. And there was my lesson: Beyond a potentially dreary fog, even if I can’t see or feel it, life goes on and God is powerful to sustain it. That’s it. He sustains and defines us when we are healthy or ill and during each phase of life. I needed to stop and wrap myself in the truth and joy of it. This was the joy intended for Christmas.
Do you need the reminder that there is life beyond the gray when your vision is unclear or depression obscures the view? Life is uncertain and raising a child with a disability makes that crystal clear. While one day is manageable, the next may be a crisis. Your child’s challenges may seem overwhelming or you may have no idea how to solve the problems. You may feel panic, grief, or a heavy weight of responsibility.
When you experience difficulty, I want you to recall God’s gift of a fog-covered river and my lesson from Christmas 2016. If you feel a dense gray fog closing around your mind or spirit, and see nothing beyond it, remain confident! The hidden but steady force of the universe—our God—who loves you immensely—is keeping the desires of your heart alive until He finds the right time to reveal them. Keep your faith, brother or sister, for surely abundant life is not gone—it’s just hidden from your immediate view.
What is your take-away lesson from Christmas 2016? What if you really believed that the force beyond the fog was working for your good? Could your most gray day be evidence of joy to come? I think so.
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).
Dr. Karen Crum brings hope and practical support to parents through her blog and award-winning book, Persevering Parent: Finding Strength to Raise Your Child with Social, Emotional or Behavioral Challenges. Join her blog and link to her book at www.PerseveringParent.com.