My Diary: hospitals and Christmas lights and how gratitude is bigger than worry

When I was putting up our Christmas decorations tonight, I smiled a little when I realized what a messy house I was decorating. Literally. We hadn’t cleaned in forever.

But also figuratively.

I smiled at how stringing up our lights felt like inviting Jesus in – pausing in the chaos and crud of sickness and anxiety and uninvited trouble and just lighting the tree and praying, “Come on in. We’re waiting for You here.

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Michael and I took a trip to New York this past week. It was our intended “romantic getaway” for just the two of us.

One day into our trip, Michael fainted from nausea due to severe food poisoning. He hit his head and was knocked unconscious. I dialed 911 for an ambulance, and the Fields ended up in the NYC hospital in the middle of the night.

Can I be real, here? Awesome. I’ll be real.

I spent the better part of last week – the week we’d planned on enjoying the twinkling lights and selfie-ing with the Rockefeller tree and eating too much cheesecake and making a tally of how many Christmas lights we saw – crying on and off about the messiness and fear of finding my husband in that awful moment.

After we checked out of the hospital, I mostly remember double-checking that Michael was OK every five minutes for the remainder of the trip. I couldn’t sleep unless I could hear him breathing steadily. The shock of finding him in such a weak state, the what-ifs that circled my brain and clutched my heart, the emotions of completely changed expectations about something we’d looked forward to for so long, the shock that OMIGOODNESS I LITERALLY DIALED 911 LIKE THEY TAUGHT ME IN SECOND GRADE, the massive amounts of Gatorade we consumed in the span of 3 days, and then the relief that I still have my husband and HE REALLY IS GOING TO BE OKAY made my emotions look like the following:

FDJSAL548W58OHYGURHEW584%&TFJDSKHGFJDGFDSG??!!!!!! **chocolate break** GHFDL48WIAHURLV8T4YE!!??!!

And so, somehow at first, stringing up the Christmas lights back at home…with Michael sleeping on the couch because taking the tree down from the attic wore him out…seemed…I don’t know. Weird?

Like, instead of spreading little spurts of light joy around my house…anxiety was insisting that I worry about Michael instead. Worry about anything, really.

Instead of…spreading joy.

How opposite of our life-breathing Jesus can one thought be?!!!

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It’s freedom, really, this: I can’t add even a minute to mine or Michael’s span of life by worrying (Matt 6:27). I feel like Jesus told us that as a command, but also as a freeing gift: holding it all together just flat-out isn’t up to us. We are not in control. Blessed assurance, we’re held by something greater than our own worry.

And so, in an act of defiant praise to the Author of Christmas, I continued to string up our Christmas lights. And the cats continued to rip them down. And it turned into the sweetest of times. 

Jesus keeps proving Himself to be the author of real, unyielding, hopeful sweetness.

And guess what?

The hubs is MUCH better by the time I’ve posted this! A little tired, but eating and working like a champ.

And guess what else?

Our lights are twinkling brighter than ever and I’m so glad I didn’t wait until we had it “all together” to rejoice.

Merry Christmas, and blessings and joy to you wherever you find yourself this season,

Robyn

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thes 5:16-18.

Dear Michael

Dear Michael,

Last night I saw God in you.

You didn’t know it – you were too busy teasing me, trying to make me guess what that gift is under the tree.

The one you wrapped up all nice with a bow while I was out, just because.

Because you know how much presents under the tree stir something in my heart like a little girl and the joy and smiles come so naturally with gifts…especially when they’re gifts from you.

And so you wrapped my Christmas present the day it came in the mail.

Because you couldn’t wait.

Christmas Present

And so when I came home late, tired from a full day, you held our cat and he bit your hand and you pointed to under the tree and there was the first gift of Christmas, wrapped carefully, just for me.

It looked so perfect under those Christmas tree lights.

You even agreed to take my picture with it…because you know that for me, it’s the First Gift of Christmas and worth celebrating with my tired, goofy grin from a long day.

But it’s not just about gifts, and you know that.

Because your love language is acts of service and so when I dropped your shirts off at the dry cleaning yesterday, I gave you a love letter.

And my love language is gifts and so when you wrapped that present up for me two and half weeks early and smiled that grin because you saw my own grin, you gave me a love letter, too.

But you reminded me of something.

We spent close to an hour laughing while we took turns wrangling Tuck and guessing about that gift.

I threw out every idea I could think it would be, and you just kept laughing because you knew I wouldn’t find out until Christmas, but it sure was funny watching me try.

And really, you didn’t know, but watching you watch me was the best part of it all.

You absolutely delighted in delighting me.

Your big smile and your kind eyes shining…watching your bride guess what gift she has coming…well, you radiated Jesus’s love.

I couldn’t help but think this morning how…if that’s how a mere man can feel, giving a gift, wrapping it up, waiting for the right moment to let his bride enjoy it…that must be a taste of what it looks like up in Heaven.

Our Perfect Father, lavishing good and perfect gifts on His people, the church…

…lavishing mercy and hope in the midst of our messes

…lavishing peace and joy in the midst of our chaos

…lavishing sunsets and bright grass and bare winter trees and warm water and colors and books and laughter and space heaters and picture frames and time to look upward & worship in the midst of our daily tasks

and all the while, I like to think, of our Perfect Father radiating perfect love, basking in the joy of watching us all enjoy His gifts…and even more, warming in delight as we recognize our gifts are from Him because He is good and perfect and because He loves us.

So Michael, last night, you showed me a glimpse of our Father’s love.

A small taste of Heaven’s smile.

An encouragement to delight in the Giver of good and perfect gifts.

A thought that perhaps…the gleam in your eye is a reflection, made in His image…of an even greater gleam in His eyes toward us.

Love,

your wife

p.s. – I’m about to wrap your present, too…so start guessing!

Behind the Christmas Card (the one with the crazy cat…)

Greetings! Here is mine and Michael’s Christmas card for this year:

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And here is a more accurate representation of our family: (Tucker trying to escape, and us trying to smile while also making sure he doesn’t run and hide under the bushes just to be difficult while we wait with treats as people drive by and give us questioning looks because we’re outside in church clothes crawling around in the pine straw attempting to grab our furball like what happened last week).

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Sometimes the holidays can be like that, can’t they?

We want the first picture. The perfect one. The Christmas carols are playing and the candles are lit and the tree is bright and so shouldn’t everything be perfect, just this month, if no other time?

And if things aren’t perfect for me at Christmas, am I alone in that?

Is everyone else having a way more normal and sugary and wonderful experience as meanwhile Michael and I work through newlywed lessons only learned and planted beautifully in the heart while forged in the heat of challenge?

If your holidays, dear friends, at times resembled crawling in the pine straw (probably not, but you get what I’m saying) instead of decorating Christmas cookies, you are not alone.

And I don’t mean things were negative or bad all the time this Christmas.

Lots of times this Christmas season, things were wonderful.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow, dear friends! I am so thankful for all those good times!

I instagramed about our tree and cookies and presents, and we drank hot chocolate and sang carols and snuggled and laughed and watched the Polar Express and stayed in our pajamas all day.

But also lots of times this particular Christmas season, things were hard.

Michael and I were (and are) in the process of setting boundaries in respect to how we spend our holidays, based on what is best for our marriage – our marriage, the sacred beginning of our own little family.

Someone didn’t like – didn’t respect — the boundaries we needed as a young family, and it hurt.

Really hurt.

The kind of hurt where you choose to genuinely thank God for His Son while you string the Christmas lights because you must choose joy when the emotion isn’t easy to find in the moment.

The kind of hurt where your husband sits on the couch and prays and wants peace with someone he loves but it’s just not in his control anymore because people have free will.

This was our Christmas, dear friends. Our second Christmas as a married couple. Our second Christmas as our own family. As one flesh. And I am so thankful for it.

It was a beautiful time. It was sacred. It was also messy.

But isn’t beautiful and sacred and messy the story of our lives?

And isn’t beautiful and sacred and messy why we needed Christmas in the first place?

Because who could rescue us from sin so messy, but the God who made us beautiful and sees us as beautiful despite the mess? Who could rescue us but the God who chose to come in the most sacred, pure, loving way: as a newborn baby?

If your Christmas was hard, I know it’s disappointing. It’s frustrating.

Especially if you wrestle against perfectionism (you’re in good company here, folks) and your Christmas wasn’t like the picture, it’s confusing, even.

Please know Jesus didn’t come for the perfect.

Christmas didn’t happen for the perfect.

It’s so much better than that.

Like a fresh breath of air, Jesus came for you and me. He came because we’re not perfect. And our situations here on earth will never be perfect, and so we can celebrate Christmas because He came!

Hallelujah, He came!

And so now, because He came for you, He promises when there is pain, there is purpose (Rom 8:28).

When you hurt, He is near (Psalm 34:18).

When you trust in Him, you will live with Him forever in a place more perfect than we can imagine (John 3:16).

Maybe this Christmas was wonderfully peaceful and bright and joyful for you. I pray it was! Michael and I have had those simply sweet Christmases, too, and I know we will again.

Praise God for those Christmases! They are gifts.

With a humble heart and by the grace of God, I echo this: Praise God for these hard Christmases, too. They also are gifts. They are. And you are not alone in them.

This is the promise: everything that happens will be used for the good of those who love God. The hard Christmases will be used for good, and the peaceful, easy Christmases will be used for good.

What an incredible God we serve.

Dear friends, I don’t yet see the purpose in our pain from this Christmas. I don’t.

But I do see little glimmers of hope, like little surprises in the tree: the smile Michael gives me when we pray together, holding hands more lately because we’re a team and we need each other, praising God with hearts freshly bowed at the Christmas Eve service because we can see more clearly now in the pain how He truly is our Comfort, Shield, Savior. The moments where we share hearts because we have to lean on each other instead of watch TV. The moments when we look at each other in difficult situations with eyes that understand and we just know. We’re in it together.

These things are all the little gifts God softened my heart to receive this Christmas.

I pray whether your Christmas was easy or hard, peaceful or chaotic, that God gives you eyes to look back and see the gifts He gave. I pray we’ll all have eyes to see the gifts He gives today.

And I pray we all have fresh eyes to see, and hearts to know the greatest Gift we’ll ever receive in Christ Jesus.

Peace and blessings to you and your family,

Robyn