So, last week I fell on the ice and really did a number on my shoulder. Apparently, it's not broken. But I've been wearing it in a sling and the pain is persistent and exhausting.
I've been sure from the beginning that God had a gift for me in there somewhere. I've been (desperately) trying to figure out what it is - sometimes finding a purpose helps so much with pain. It's not just the pain that's hard to take - everything takes me twice as long to do. And this time of year is difficult anyway - cakes to cut and decorate, presents to buy, house to decorate, the list is endless. And Colin has been working 13+ hour days for weeks.
I just felt like God picked the worst time of year to teach me...what? Compassion? I tried using the pain and inconvenience to remind me to pray for those suffering from psychological pain on a daily basis. Surely, that is more debilitating than a busted shoulder. And that was good, but I felt I was forcing it. God's gifts are never forced. I guess I just wanted to run and meet him at the gift.
Last night, He woke me in the night to reveal my gift. So like Him - it's been 7 days since my fall - after 6 days of "work" I got to unwrap the gift.
In the quiet of the midnight hours, with the moon shining in my window from behind some wispy tree branches, I awoke and thought about the evening we had had. Ash would fly out to Thunder Bay in the morning, so we had planned a family Christmas evening. Colin and I both worked until 6, so he picked up Thai food on the way home and I grabbed Laurie some Wendy's (her choice: she doesn't like Thai). By the time we got home, it was after 7, so we hurriedly opened food packages and sat down to eat together.
Laurie and Marcella had cleared the table of my wrapping mess - I had hastily wrapped Ash's presents in the morning before taking the kids to school and heading to work. But there was no fanfare - no softly glowing candles or pretty Christmas music playing. But there was joy. The kids all laughed and shared memories. We all laughed about the way an adult friend had recently pronounced "meme" and the kids rolled their eyes in glee.
Then, without clearing our dishes, we went downstairs and turned on the fireplace. Nothing was picture-perfect! I have no decorations up in the family room. The gifts had been somewhat wrapped. There was a pile of unfolded laundry on one end of the couch. The carpet needed to be vacuumed. Some DVD cases lay on the floor. But the room was warm with love (even between the 3 teens) and we laughed and teased as we exchanged gifts. It was one of the most enjoyable "Christmases" I have had. Ash bought me a book of 6 Mi'qmaw stories - a very thoughtful gift that I'm really excited about. The kids exchanged cute little gifts that reflect their likes.
Then, Ash went to pack, Colin went to bed, Marcella and Laurie helped me put the dishes in the dishwasher, and we went to bed.
What God revealed to me was this: in the past, I would have brought a storm cloud of frustration to that little scene. Self-loathing that I couldn't get things together and make it perfect. Regret that we were missing out because nothing looked like pictures out of a magazine. I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the beauty of it, AND I would have robbed a little of the joy all around, because of my expectations. My failure, again. But this year. This year, because of my injured arm, all of my expectations are scaled way, way back. I can't do as much as I usually can. I can't even really do my own hair. It's only the basics until this thing heals.
And that is the gift of this busted up shoulder. Permission to enjoy the beauty without feeling the failure. Peace and joy and laughter without frustration and disappointment and regret.
Sounds like Christmas to me!