Continuing today with our “December to Remember” series, my special guest is dear friend Lynn D. Morrissey, who shares with such honesty and transparency about a holiday season that was not turning out the way she wanted it to. She found herself really wrestling with her attitude…
It was Christmastime. We had just moved into a sprawling ranch house after living twenty-four years in a charming little bungalow. I felt as if I’d left my heart and a lifetime of precious memories behind.
Oh, God . . . how can I experience Christmas joy in this “foreign” place? I wondered.
As I often did when depressed, I asked God to comfort me through the Psalms. Much to my disappointment, that day I happened to turn to Psalm 81: “You shall have no foreign gods among you; you shall not bow down to an alien god. I am the LORD Your God, . . . Open wide your mouth and I will fill it” (vv. 9-10).
Great, Lord, I thought. I want joy, and You talk about idols and wide mouths! I don’t understand what You’re saying, but I open my heart, and ask You to fill me with Your presence.
I decided to go Christmas-shopping, thinking that if I bought some special decorations for the new house to make it really mine, I’d experience a little joy.
I had my heart set on hand-blown golden ornaments, but was unprepared for the price. Ouch! Our ordinary old ornaments would have to do. Surely we can update my pitiful childhood nativity set, I consoled myself. I spied a gorgeous set made of cream-colored china, elegantly accented with real gold. The baby Jesus was especially exquisite—and so was the price! I grew more disenchanted by the moment.
Forgetting decorations altogether, I dropped by the jewelry department. I had always wanted a sapphire ring. Though I knew I couldn’t afford one, I thought that just looking would be fun. Yet window-shopping only fueled my discontent.
With my shop-for-joy trip a dismal failure, I headed for the exit as tinny mall Muzak whined Santa-songs over loud-speakers. Racing out the door, I almost ran over a tiny high-school choir caroling in the frosty air. There was poignancy in their presence, simplicity in their song.
I, and a young mother holding a beautiful baby boy, were the only shoppers who had stopped to hear the plaintive solo of a young African-American teen singing in Negro dialect: “Sweet little Jesus boy, we din’ know who you wuz.” His velvety voice floated on the air like soft-falling snow. The baby cooed gently. I listened to the entire song and, with moist eyes, hugged the singer, grateful for his gift of joy, the first I’d experienced all day.
Approaching my car, I stopped to gaze at a distant row of pear trees, their bright gold leaves flashing like bangles against a jewel-blue sky. I could hear the sharp intake of my own breath, surprised as I was by such sudden beauty.
One glance at my watch interrupted my reverie; I needed to reach the hardware store before it closed. Completely exasperated when the salesman told me he’d sold the last set of icicle lights (that I’d wanted to buy for several years), I drove home in the dark in a foul mood, without Christmas lights, without Christmas joy.
I parked the car and stepped out. Glancing upward, I was mesmerized by thousands of glittering stars—like crystal confetti scattered across the moonlit sky. It doesn’t matter if we don’t have lights, I realized. Lord, we have your glorious galaxies!
The truth dawned forcefully. Because I had opened my heart to God’s presence, He removed my fake idols and filled my day with His real treasures: Instead of golden ornaments and a sapphire ring, He gave me gold leaves and a cerulean sky; instead of commercial Muzak, the genuine Christmas message in a stirring spiritual; instead of a lifeless china Jesus, a beautiful living baby—a real reminder of the vulnerable child, Jesus, born just for me; instead of a string of light bulbs that would soon dim, a starry host that would blaze eternally.
Lynn D. Morrissey possesses the rare ability to probe beneath the surface, striking the heart of a subject, while sharing transparently from her own heart. She is passionate about journaling, through which God healed her of suicidal depression, alcoholism, and guilt from an abortion. She empathizes greatly with those who endure pain. A poetic word-stylist, Lynn sculpts beautiful language with her pen, and is the author of Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer and other books, contributor to numerous bestsellers, a Certified Journal Facilitator (CJF) for her ministry, Heartsight Journaling, AWSA speaker, and professional soloist. She lives with her husband Michael and college-age daughter Sheridan in St. Louis, Missouri. Contact Lynn by email at words@ brick.net or on Facebook.