The Wilder Life: December 2016
● By Robert Frey
Aching Backs And Hope
By Amanda Jean Elliott
Up until that Christmas Eve I had not sat in the dark and cried. The year was 2014 and my life had not taken the turns I had expected, planned for, prayed for. I stood in a church at a candlelight service. My 3-year-old son not with me. It was the first major “it’s your dad’s holiday.”
I sat at that candlelight service holding it together by just the threads of hope. And I mustered the nerve to do the bold thing. I reached out and I grabbed hold of all those intangible promises God had made me over the years. Even though sometimes it would be easier to not to. Because when you reach, when you have the faith to take God up on all those promises there is the possibility you will find that the net you believed was under you was all an illusion.
That night I found, once again, that God can be trusted. Sometimes we do fall, sometimes the bad thing does happen. I learned during that year and the ones since that God’s hope is the undeniable. Sometimes blinding. Sometimes enveloping. And His love, the love that was born on that Christmas so long ago, well, it’s better than a net. It is a bottomless well. Fathomless. It’s able to fuel us when the world drains us. It buoys us when the weight of our circumstances threaten to pull us under.
And so as I sat and cried on that Christmas Eve. Tears of the heart. Not sadness. Not joy. Just emotion beyond what my body could contain. I looked up and in the pew in front of me stood a mother holding a cherub-faced boy about Wilder’s age. He looked heavy. Of all of the people in all of the world I sat behind her. Behind him. A reflection of what I so desperately wanted in that moment. To have the aching back. To still the wiggling legs during the sermon. To worry my son could be the one to set the church on fire when we passed the candles. Or at least set my recently hair-sprayed hair ablaze.
It was the moment I carpe diemed myself. And so now, tired momma, I’m going to do it to you. I’m going to tell you the thing your weary bones don’t want to hear. That as you tire of the wrapping and the “I want this” for the 568 time, as you grow cold to the idea of turkey cooking and being Santa. As the weight of exhaustion and being the end all be all threatens to taint this precious time of year, stop. Hold the baby. Just be. None of it matters.
Jesus didn’t arrive in human form with a plan to die on a cross so that we could spend our lives in the dark or defeated or crushed under the weight of expectations created by kids watching commercials and us watching the neighbors (or that lady on Facebook that ices allll of the cookies and does the best Elf on the Shelf ever.) What matters is that you represent hope, that you point your little ones to the light at all cost. Sometime this holiday season you may need to sit in the dark and cry. But, don’t live there. It’s not your home. Know that someday your full hands will be empty and you will ache for that aching back.