By early morning today, we had a pretty good idea of how our Christmas this year was going to be. Part of me was hugely relieved that the annual big family gathering was not to be. I’m tiring easily and it’s taking me longer and longer to recover, despite relying more and more on the kids to help out with the cleaning and tidying. In addition to that, with a house packed with guests, I was beginning to wonder how do I pull off massive meal preparations for 3 straight days when I wasn’t bouncing back quickly enough.
So, it did brighten my day to have it finalised today that Christmas would just be us and the kids.
And yet, disappointment curled tiny tendrils around my heart that the house wouldn’t be filled this year. I know it’s almost suggestive of madness to feel this way when it’s clear that I’m having trouble coping with the physical work that used to come easy. But this is the shadow which most, if not all, adult survivors of emotional abuse contend with – the tendency to perceive rejection even when there’s none to be found.
I knew very well that none of our extended family could make it to our place this year for a variety of valid reasons ranging from shortened or no Christmas leave to hospitalised parents and having to care for the elderly who could no longer travel so far out to us here.
Still, that knowing wasn’t strong enough to smother the snide snigger I kept hearing from somewhere behind my ear.
They could have come but just didn’t want to try, said that voice, just for me.
I think Jesus heard it.
Minutes later, out on an errand, some time to myself in the car, I read a line from The Life of Faustina Kowalska. Jesus had appeared to the dying saint and said to her, Heart of my Heart, be filled with joy.
My heart still filled with conflicting emotions over Christmas, I read the line only with my mind, wondering absently, How would it feel to have Jesus say this to me?
No sooner had the thought budded when I felt an unseen finger write those very words on my heart.
Heart of my Heart, be filled with joy.
Suddenly, I felt certain, it was Jesus’ voice I felt.
Be filled with joy. I felt I needed to make myself worthy of such tenderness. I needed to rid myself of all that was enervating me. So, I resolved to go in cheer to my chores and Christmas preparations. To encourage myself to keep going when I got tired, yet not be unkind to myself to forsake needed rest.
Jesus stopped by once more to cheer me on.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
~ Song of Songs 2: 13, 1st Reading, 3rd week of Advent
Happy hours slipped past like tiny boats on a grinning brook, gurgling after the break of winter’s ice. Much got done and done happily. My kind of day. Eager for a short rest, I turned back to take one last look at the tumble of the day’s old hours. I saw each face of my family members and their reasons for not being able to make it. Why? I asked Jesus, why did You keep each one away? Not achingly asked; merely wanting to know.
In reply, He led me to a new nativity image. Someone had named it, Let Mum Rest.
For weeks now, I’ve been praying daily for help, consecrating our Christmas to our Guardian Angel, asking that he take each prayer to Jesus and to Mother Mary.
Today, I knew for certain that our angel had heard the prayers, joining his own heart to each entreaty, as he entrusted it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
And as the winds sang their afternoon hymn, I heard Their tender reply.
Let Mum Rest