For anyone who has lost someone close, you understand that the holidays are bittersweet. Making new memories can come easy some days. Other days, the grief comes in another wave. Memories from previous holidays come flooding back. The hole that person left in your heart feels like it expands in that moment.
During the first year without my Mom, I remember the feeling of being worried that the grief would steal away aspects of my current life. I was worried more that the holidays would be horrible. What I recognized right away and that which continues to be confirmed daily, is that everything comes down to a choice you make. In a world where we base many things on feelings, often not taking any responsibility for our actions, our lives would be less complicated if we just took care of us, instead of making drama about everyone and everything else. This does not mean that issues will not be talked out with others because that is healthy too. What I do mean is that we have a choice to live a lifestyle full of gratefulness despite our circumstances, owning what is ours and letting go of what is not.
When my husband and I look and plan for this holiday season, at first glance we see loneliness and gaps of missing people we wish would be a part of our lives. We see reconciliation that has yet to happen and very painful situations. But we have a choice to make. That choice becomes easy when Holy Spirit fills us like a breath of fresh air. Because we choose God daily, he helps us have the correct perspective. God uses everything. Sometimes when things look bleak and dreary, breakthrough may be on the verge of bursting forth like the suns rays after a storm.
We choose to be thankful. We choose grace and joy. When we do this, laughter becomes a normal part of life instead of a frown and a weakening heart. A renewed sense of love for others pumps through our veins as we choose to serve instead of wallowing our sorrows in the dark. When we choose God, we are open to new people, and new experiences that may look nothing like our original expectations. God has been molding our hearts to be open to enjoy life no matter what comes and no matter how few or how many are with us on the journey.
As we reflect on the memories we hold close to our hearts, the gift of Mom lingers. It is the gift of her that adds a unique spice to every new memory that we choose to make. It is her legacy of love from God that helps to remind us that God is good and that he makes everything beautiful in time.
Mom, the gift of you still lingers. Because of you, you showed me what beautiful looked like. You showed me how God walks with us through the pain, the heartache, and the refining fire. I am thankful I can cherish every memory of you knowing that no one can take that away.
I am thankful God gives us joy and the strength to choose it every day.
I am thankful.