“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ The Message (MSG)
Even though this Christmas was 12 years ago, I can still remember it as if it was yesterday. I was in a new season of life, a season I hadn’t chosen for myself and my little 2 year old daughter. I was a single mom, working 12 hour days as a preschool teacher, using all of my resources and energy to hold our little family together and put food on the table and gas in the car.
I was bone-tired and dealing with trying to be a mom with a positive outlook on all of this for my daughter’s sake; it wasn’t her fault that we were in a new place and starting out fresh just the two of us. I knew in my heart that God was with me and that He would take care of us – - – but I will be honest and admit that I was struggling with the end of my marriage and the fact that I was now going to raise this precious little girl on my own.
How do you find peace in a situation that seems like a dead-end, or at the very least, the dead-end of all of your dreams?
I felt so alone, discarded, vulnerable, overlooked, ignored, but at the same time, safe, blessed, content, and hope-filled as I learned in a brand new way how to trust and look to God to be my All in All. His Promises in the Word became my source of strength and I clung with both hands to the hem of His garment as I prayed many nights alone in my bed, tears streaming down my face, for Him to carry me and heal my broken heart.
A few months passed, and the Christmas season had come. When you are in a place of being alone, Christmas and all of the happy family times can make an ache in your heart that hurts to the very core of your body. I was surrounded by smiling families in church, new couples enjoying their first Christmas together, and lots of new babies cooing and smiling around me. I felt like everywhere I looked I was reminded of all of the things I had lost… or never would have again. If I wasn’t careful, I would sink into a pity party, dwelling on the unfairness of life.
One day, I decided to change my outlook and attitude; although I couldn’t change my circumstances, I could change how this season would affect my life and perception of the world. My God didn’t think my life had ended at the end of my marriage; I could be a blessing to others around me, if I chose to think about how I could give rather than receive.
On Christmas Eve, I tucked my sweet little girl into bed and prepared to set out the few gifts I had been able to purchase for her that year. I filled her stocking and let my hand drift over to my limp stocking hanging next to hers when the thought hit me: in the morning, I wouldn’t have a gift to open or anything in my stocking. I felt a lump form in my throat, but I immediately dismissed the thought that Santa would be overlooking me this year. I knew that my Abba-Daddy would never forget me or my needs. I said a prayer of Thanksgiving for all that He had given me over the past few months and went to bed with a peaceful heart.
The morning came quickly and my sweetheart and I had a wonderful time opening her gifts together and having breakfast. I remember asking her to start getting dressed to go to my mom’s when there was a knock at the door. My first thought was that some neighbor kids from the apartment complex had come by to say Merry Christmas, but when I opened the door, I was shocked to see my aunt standing there holding a gift for me.
Tears filled my eyes as she loudly declared, “Merry Christmas, Gean-Bean!” and she gave me a big hug…. I could hardly move to let her in the door as the shock of what just happened came over me. My aunt had remembered that this Christmas I was going to be alone; there was nobody to be Santa for me that year, but she had driven to my house early in the morning to give me something to open and make me feel remembered and special.
I opened my gift – - – and discovered a sweet little figurine of a little girl caroler, holding a Christmas tree. It was such a sweet, beautiful little thing and her face just radiated JOY! She was praising the LORD for the gift of His Son and it was a poignant reminder that I could open my mouth and praise the LORD, no matter my circumstances. It was also a reminder that God hadn’t forgotten me that He used my aunt to be a blessing and His hands and feet of love to me that Christmas. I didn’t feel so alone anymore.
When I unwrap my Christmas decorations and start to set out the many little things that bring Christmas to my home, my hand finds this sweet girl each year and the memories of that Christmas morning come back to me. My aunt may have second-guessed her decision to come over and surprise me that morning, thinking it was just a small gesture, but when I think of Christmas gifts that mean the most to me, this little caroler always comes to mind.
This Christmas, may you be able to find and bless the ones around you that have been forgotten or overlooked; although your smile, a card, or the gift of your presence may not feel like much, it can mean the whole world to that person. I pray that God brings you one person that you can bless this Christmas, as my aunt was able to do for me those years ago, and in sharing that gift with them, you have an opportunity to give as unto the LORD.