I might be going on 29 years old, but Christmas is still a time of wonder and magic for me. I love the glow of Christmas lights, the sparkles, the music, going to church and lighting candles while singing, Silent Night. I’m not a fan of the over-commercialization of Christmas or the culture of excessive gift-giving, but I love giving that perfect present to someone you love. I could watch Love Actually, Home Alone, The Holiday, and The Sound of Music endlessly. I love holiday parties, seeing old friends, and munching on goodies. I love romantic strolls through the city and taking in the crisp winter air. I especially love the days after Christmas when discarded Christmas trees line the streets.
The first Christmas that illness hijacked my plans was in 2011, three Christmases ago. I was still living in NYC at the time and felt too unwell to travel back to Texas for Thanksgiving and Christmas, instead I spent the holidays in the city with my boyfriend. It was wonderful and a bit romantic, but my undiagnosed illness loomed overhead and put a damper on things. Last Christmas (2012), I was in so much pain that I could hardly walk or open presents, I had a bad drug reaction that caused tendinitis in every joint of my body. I remember crawling down the stairs on Christmas morning in tears because the pain was so out of control, it was scary bad, and it made me angry that my illness had “ruined Christmas”. This year, I’m counting on a better day and am sure that I’ll feel better than last year, even though I’m still a far cry from being well enough to enjoy Christmas the way I’d like to.
Christmas is a wonderful mash up of busyness, rest, and relaxation for most people, but for me it’s just a reminder of how exhausted I am both literally and figuratively speaking. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. If you struggle with Lyme or another chronic illness then you understand what I mean. After the weeks, months, and years start rolling by you begin to get used to the exhaustion, it’s just a constant state of being, but there are certain times when the weight of it hits you harder, and Christmas is one of those times. At times it’s hard not to think about the things I’m missing in life, I see the people around me growing, evolving, getting married, perusing their careers, and having babies, yet I feel stuck. Stuck inside of a body that won’t do what I want it to. When I start feeling stuck, hope is the thing that presses me forward, speaking quietly to my soul that it will be better tomorrow if I just keep holding on. The definition of hope according to google is, to “wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment”. I truly expect that I will be well one day, hopefully soon. I can visualize it, I see myself going for a run, going shopping, and getting married. I expect that these things will happen, and it keeps me going on the days that I can do nothing but lay in silence, face down, melting into the sofa.
Hope is the very essence of Christmas, and it seemed fitting to speak about it while Christmas is upon us. Jesus is hope, and without Him I don’t know how I would be coping with my illness right now, and I certainly would not have had the courage to start this blog. I’m scared to think of where I might be today if not for a strong sense of hope that things will be better one day, that I will be completely healed. This sense of hope comes from the many promises of Jesus to His people, and one of my favorite promises is this: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV). The things I have had to endure have been awful, and I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone, but I can fully trust that God will do what he says He will do. He will undoubtedly use my pain and turn it into something wonderful, and I have already begun to see this happen, even as I am still very much in the trenches with this illness.
Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, I think we can all agree that hope is a powerful tool and the world could use more of it. Some of the things I earnestly hope for and expect to see come to fruition in my life are, complete healing, a beautiful new season of life that is free of pain and full of joy, and the opportunity to fulfill my dreams.
What do you hope for?
I’ll leave you with a peek into what Christmas looks like in our home. Wishing you the merriest of Christmases with lots of love and laughter!