This year I’ve made a new friend, Shelly Miller. I’ve been blessed by her writing — her warmth, her depth, her transparency. Shelly and her husband are waiting to be released to accept a ministry assignment in England. It’s been a long, hard wait, with all kinds of unexpected complications and delays. Yet in the midst of the disapointment and frustration, Shelly has found a gift…
When we received the disappointing news that our move to London was delayed until after Christmas, the first thing that came to my mind was the Habitat for Humanity truck pulling out of my driveway filled with boxes of Christmas decorations.
In the last days of summer, sweating through a t-shirt, I stood in the garage watching our family tree, the one we’d decorated for more than a decade, leave my house and drive through my neighborhood. Lying in the original box with layers of tape and dust from the attic, those fake pine branches carried a host of family memories away with them.
But in those brief reflective moments of nostalgia, hope for the future overshadowed any sadness.We assumed we’d soon be moving into our home in London sans a garage, attic or walk-in closet.
Now as we delve further into the season with my empty living room reality, the only way I can make peace with that sacrifice is to believe that every branch holds joy for someone else. Imagining a tree lit up, poised in the corner of a living room with borrowed hope from my family is how my heart rests with a casual decision I made months ago.
And perhaps this is a metaphor for what God teaches in waiting seasons. We long to celebrate the newness of birth, joy in preparation for the arrival of promise but realize how casual our conviction really is when sacrifice and suffering are required for the miracle.
Through a Christmas that looks bleak in comparison to others in years past, God reveals the true heart of the season through the absence of what is normally decorated by tradition. The same way absence of a room at the Inn provides a meaningful detail in the unconventional birth of our Savior. The world’s greatest miracle happened in a barn, lying in a manger surrounded by the stench of life.
The way we make peace with our losses? We borrow hope from Mary and Joseph and believe waiting has significance in the story He is writing for us.
What is empty, void, missing in life isn’t always a negative; sometimes it’s the whitespace God is using to write new chapters that change your life and the lives of others.
Shelly Miller is smitten with the power of story and enjoys making people think differently about life. As an extrovert, clergy wife and mother of two teens, she is transitioning to London, thankful she will no longer refer to being inspired by other cultures as a luxury or writing as a hobby. Read more on her blog, Redemptions Beauty, connect on Facebook and Twitter, join the Sabbath Society community.