Guest post by Cecil Kestner
It’s a somewhat disconcerting thought that we are born to start losing. As babes in arms we have no concept or understanding of that as we are nurtured and cared for through the early very vulnerable years of infancy and childhood. But then it starts. We have to go to school and leave the home nest. Whether or not we have been blessed with a solid family background based on relationship with the Lord, we may well not have any idea that we have embarked on a journey that will be marked by losses of one sort or another.
When we become parents ourselves we watch with delight as our babies become toddlers and then go to preschool and kindergarten. But then they keep on growing and learning as they go through elementary and middle schools. Then High School and the adventures of learning to drive and deciding on a direction for college and a future career. The whole idea is to raise independent adults, but it can be a bittersweet journey.
One of the most important lessons I learned during the process is that it is necessary to grieve the end of one stage before you can embrace the benefits and joys of the next one. I so remember walking home after dropping my daughter off for her first full day of first grade and getting very weepy on the way home to an empty house. It didn’t, however, take me long to realize there were benefits to having more time available for other interests and activities.
Not only do parents grieve the loss of family life as they knew and loved it, but inevitably other losses hit hard. The loss of our own parents. The loss of a baby. The loss of relationships within and without the family. Friends move away. New friends move in. You move yourself because of your husband’s job and lose a whole network of friends connected with his job, your church and your neighborhood.
But in the midst of it all is Jesus Immanuel. God with us. God in us and around us. God ever present with us. A God so immense that He spoke the worlds into being and Who yet, by the power and presence of His Holy Spirit, still deigns to live within us, interested in the daily details of our individual lives.
We have just weathered 2021 and have embarked on the whole new adventure of 2022. And that involved circumnavigating another Christmas season. It’s so easy to lose sight of why we actually celebrate Christmas in the first place. It’s supposed to be about Jesus and His birth, but we lose sight of that in the enforced jollity and emphasis on gifts and glitz. And we can feel guilty because we don’t feel as glad and happy as the world demands. We’re maybe having to realize that celebrating with family is very different now, and that while we are loved and welcomed, we are not really a key part of the family the way we used to be. So we come back to allowing ourselves to grieve the passage of time so that we can welcome the new reality.
Can I choose to focus on Jesus Immanuel in my present circumstances and rejoice in Him in the here and now? Does that come down to trusting Him whether or not I like the script He has written for my life at the moment? Can I choose to remember that He knows me far better than I know myself, down to knowing what I am going to think or say before I think or say it? (Psalm 139). Can I choose to remember the way He has brought me over many years? How He has always been faithful and how He has taught me to trust Him through the valleys of anxiety and struggle? (Psalm 23). Can I choose to see that the perceived losses in my life have actually brought about gains? For example, watching my kids grow in the Lord and raise their kids, my grandkids, to love and serve Him too?
I most certainly can try. Day by day I can remember that the Name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe (Proverbs 18.10). I can make that a daily priority—to spend time in the Word and dwell in the safety of the strong tower, remembering His unfailing faithfulness and His steadfast love as I remember the way He has brought me.