#93: At Least One True Thing

#93: At Least One True Thing

So, apparently, Christmas happened when I wasn’t looking! Though it’s not like I let it completely slip up on me. I went to a few Christmas parties and ate some candy canes and there was a 7 foot decorated conifer in my living room. I bought gifts and wrapped gifts and got gifts. I have been merry, and hope you have been merry, too, despite your sadness and woe at the lack of new pamphlets for your reading enjoyment.

Though I hung my stockings by the chimney with care, something kept me from fully embracing the Christmas spirit this year. Several somethings, actually, happening to people I care about. People who have suffered heavy losses, been hospitalized, and struggled with life-threatening illnesses.

Matters of life and death, while exhaustingly melodramatic, are no respecters of holidays. I wish I weren’t in a position to understand this. However, once some kind of holiday tragedy has befallen you, it seems you become hyper-aware of them happening to others from then onward. It’s like you have joined the most unpopular club ever, but you can’t help but recognize new members. You know what their indoctrination will be like. You know how their membership will color their enjoyment of Christmas for years to come.

It’s been many years since my particular holiday tragedy unfolded. It wasn’t something that I thought I would ever get over, and certainly, parts of it will always be with me. But I sang Christmas carols this year, and enjoyed the heck out of some truly awful lighting displays. The first year, the first several years, actually, I don’t think I enjoyed the heck out of anything. I didn’t think I ever would, right until the point when I realized that my holidays, against all odds, had become happy again. Not start-to-finish, soup-to-nuts happy, but with enough happy moments to make me believe in the concept again.

I’m the kind of person that likes to fix things. I want to give perfect advice and life-changing words of wisdom and encouragement. It’s natural to want to make tough times easier for those you love. But only God can truly fix things. All I can do, other than be a friend, is serve as proof that the unbearable thing you thought would break you forever, can, indeed, be borne, and eventually, there will be good things on the other side of it.

In a book that is neither very wise nor very encouraging, Ernest Hemingway wrote at least one true thing: “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” Everyone wants to be strong, though we could do without the breaking process. Isn’t it helpful to know, though, that our brokenness need not be permanent?

I hope you had a simple, peaceful, tragedy-free holiday season. But just in case you didn’t, in a book that is both very wise and very encouraging, the apostle Paul wrote many true things to the Corinthians, and here are a few of them:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” (2 Cor. 1:3-5 NIV).

I hope you did not find yourself clinging to that comfort this holiday season, holding on to it for dear life. I hope you weren’t in a position to have to rely on it to that degree.

But I hope you know it is there for you, whenever you need it.

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