Christmas, Messes & Prose

These are words
from a blogpost by my friend, Heather. 

“when life changes… when the structure of the life you’ve created somehow slips and cracks, and begins to hurdle towards leveling… holidays have no choice but to follow. changes have to happen, and new patterns emerge, and everyone wriggles towards the most recognizable normal that can be grasped.

i have to admit, i was a bit nervous.

this is the third house we’ve been in on the third christmas in a row, and the likelihood of being in yet another house next year is quite high. i feel dizzy with the speed of change that we’ve experienced, and like my children, i yearn for some stability, some solid ground on which to get my footing. all of the change, and difference smears together into one big blur, and i try hard to pull out some thread of familiarity that i can offer my kids to assure their hearts that we are ok.

their dad spent time with us last night and again today….

but then they return home after an evening with him and his family, and the oldest son starts wailing away at us both emotionally and physically. i’ve learned that this is his coping skill when he’s angry and hurting, and i am learning to speak honestly and firmly to him to try to allow space for his hurt and anger while also protecting the hearts and souls of the other children who often become the target of his pain. it’s a complicated dance we have here now… with me as the dj- trying to offer melodies that will bring joy and peace rather than dissonance and grief. i work hard to allow him to have space to hurt, but to recognize that we are not the enemy, and as sweet Jesus reminds us in his word- we can be angry and still not sin. we managed to bumble through this hurt and get to the other end of it where he was tucked in warmly and loved, and i pray his wounded heart would be carried by the father as he sleeps. this life of fractured family has tentacles of pain that reach far and wind hard and i beg God to please extract my children from the pain and grief and try hard to instill in them the solid knowledge that they are dearly loved.”Christmas Mantle

I love how she writes. She tells her story with honesty … and honesty becomes her. (You can read the rest of this post HERE.)  She does her best to tell it well without hurting others … but sometimes, the truth is difficult. She shares poetry as she writes … not the rhyming type with A/B rhythm …. just beautiful words to tell of tough stuff and stickiness and … sometimes gore.   Isn’t it easier to hear the difficult when written with beauty in decorated prose?

I think of Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.  She writes, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”  The first time I read those words, I sat with my jaw dropped. How true. How real. And how unlike me. I am a coward. I don’t always tell the whole truth … out of fear. I am learning to face fear because I have realized that I am often a coward. Why is it anyones job to protect someone else from their very own truth … a truth that they created with their own words and actions?

Heather? She shares deep. Wounds are gruesome. Bones protrude. Blood is spilled. Scars form. Sometimes she writes right after the catastrophe. Sometimes she waits until there is only a scar left as a reminder.

It takes time … this sifting through and working out.

Life is not easy. We must take what we are given. Some navigate the difficulties more easily. It seems to me, the people who look at their messes and talk through the tough stuff, acknowledge the pain that has been created and work through the whys are the more healthy.

And as I read stories of others struggles, I feel less alone.
I realize it’s “not just me.” This is important.

So, when we tell our own stories
of our own messes
we help others feel like less of an outsider.
We offer community to others who hurt.
We write words that offer an arm around a shoulder to offer solace
that “You are not alone.”

Thank you, Heather, for sharing. Yes, my friend, Honesty DOES become you. You are beautiful and your words encouraging. In sharing your messes, you let me know that I am not alone.  You offer friendship and support.
For this, I am deeply grateful.
Thank you for your heart-wrenching but poetic Christmas prose.

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