Christmas is over. WHEW! For all the hoopla and gifting and visiting and singing and believing, I am grateful. For all the food and sharing and seeing and playing and hugging, I am grateful. For all of the love and adoration and appreciating and warmth and peace, I am grateful.
But, I am equally grateful when it is over. Done. It’s so dang much work!
I’m not sure it’s supposed to be.
Just thinking of all the work Tracy and her family did in order to have us visit them is overwhelming. I still feel a little sick that they had to go to SO much effort to host us for five days. And we undid their work quite quickly. I hope the wonderful memories will balance out the tasks.
I’m thinking back to all the Christmases my mother had. We all converged on her home, staking out our bedrooms and areas. We chose chairs and accomplices and games. We chose foods and moods. We chose to hold on or let go. Hold on to the past or let go and live right now. We chose to love right now. We chose to follow Grams example of l.o.v.i.n.g. even though things were never perfect. We got to share all those Christmases with her because of a choice she made years earlier.*
And, my mother seemed to sail right through it all. I don’t know how that happens. I don’t know how she did it!
[I think, as an adult, the oldest adult there this Christmas, I noticed all the work and the emotions and the effort and the meal planning and the cleaning up. It’s just a whole lot of w.o.r.k!]
I hope it was worth it. I hope there were warm memories made. I hope love swelled and friendships were cemented. I hope special ties were bound. I hope hurting hearts were healed. I hope commitments were recommitted. This is what comes from family get-togethers — so it ultimately is worth all the work that goes into it!
:: I love my family ::
I love my children and grandchildren. They are the most important people to me. I love Camille and Tammy. I adore them all. I want happiness and peace and love for each of them. I wish I could take each struggle and fix it. Or each hurt and kiss it away. I wish I could take each challenge and make it not challenging. [Like it seems my mother did for all of us.]
But, since reality is reality, I’ll just say this:
“Our testimonies fortify us and strengthen us as we face challenges in our daily lives. Some people struggle with difficult health problems; some experience financial problems; others have challenges in their marriage or with their children; some suffer from loneliness or unfulfilled hopes and dreams. It is our testimony, combined with our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and our knowledge of the plan of salvation, which helps to get us through these times of trial and hardship.
A story is told of a woman who survived numerous challenges and heart-breaking struggles. Later, when asked how she was able to “keep a testimony during all those trials,” she replied in effect, “I didn’t keep a testimony through those times—the testimony kept me.” — Barbara Thompson, Oct. 2011.
My hope is that each one of you will make a purposeful effort to build and keep your testimony. Build! It takes effort. It takes time and prayer and faith and reading the scriptures and study. It takes all of these things. We have, each of us, witnessed various levels of testimony, commitment and heart-break. We must, each of us, protect, strengthen and build what we have and keep it safe.
My heart is wrenched for those who try to find a way without the use of testimony. For those who look for answers without considering God’s answers. For those who give up what they [must surely] want most for what they [think they] want right now.
Been there, made all those mistakes for myself, and can now with specific personal experience say, h.o.l.d. t.o. t.h.e. r.o.d.
When I was young, I always thought that was a dumb saying. Now I KNOW it’s not. Hold on! Hold on to what Gramma taught us. Hold on to the example Grampa taught us. Hold on, damn it! Don’t you dare trade that for this!
*You may not know this but I remember the day my mother and father talked about getting divorced. I remember the discussions and tears and sobbing out loud. And, I remember that after weeks and weeks of deciding, they decided not to. I remember that they decided to put their own hurt and their own loneliness and their own disappointments aside. They put their own unfulfilled hopes and dreams aside! And, they trusted in the Lord to make up the difference. And He did. For this, I am eternally grateful!
I know their personal testimonies kept them.
I may not have a perfect house, a perfect marriage, a perfect job, a perfect life, a perfect love, a perfect dream. But, I have a testimony that I cherish and has kept me. Has carried me. Has lifted me. Has helped me to endure things I couldn’t by myself.
And, that’s enough! I am far from miserable! I feel peace. I feel happiness. I feel contentment. I feel love. I feel J.O.Y! Actual joy in the midst of what some might think is misery.
And, for any who may have jumped to that conclusion, let me say I’d rather be here, right now, in this set of circumstances than anywhere else.
For all the work that goes into Christmas — a short lived event — it is certainly, also, worth all the work that life takes. All the work that living takes. All the work that family takes. All the work that a testimony requires.
Then work and watch and fight and pray
With all your might and zeal.
Push ev’ry worthy work along;
Put your shoulder to the wheel.
Please know that it is worth it.