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elves2The best Christmas ever began when I was rushing about trying to get things done, and somehow managed to clothesline myself on an extension cord, flip over the deck railing, and land in two perfect ankle breaking holes the dog had just dug.

It was an act of athleticism I didn’t even know I was capable of, surprising graceful as I sailed through the air and stuck the landing.

It didn’t hurt at all, my ankles, both now encased in these holes, just suddenly got hot. I knew I was in trouble and my immediate reaction was to accuse God. I sat there pondering the number of things that had to go wrong, that had to line up so perfectly to create this situation, someone’s failure to put the extension cord up, the dog deciding to dig those holes right there at that moment, the boxes I tripped over not being put away.

“You did this,” I said to God shaking my fist at the sky as I sat there. Perhaps He did, perhaps He sent an angel to trip me. There was something gentle, something graceful about my inelegant swan dive that just felt mysterious. I actually saw sparkles as I felt that heat in my ankles and wondered about the lack of pain.

I was totally down for the count. I crawled into the house and got ice. It’s a bit funny, but if you’ve ever been unable to stand up, you soon realize how challenging it is to reach your freezer. To this day I want one of those fridges with the freezer on the bottom. We’ve designed our  refrigerators all wrong, totally backwards.

It was the best Christmas ever because I simply let go and surrendered all. I didn’t have much choice in the matter. I decided that if God actually had done this, God is good all of the time, so there was a method to this madness, a purpose for this huge inconvenience, and it was good.

It was good. Taking me out of commission was the best thing that ever happened to our family. I had gotten so caught up in the busyness of Christmas and it had begun to lose its meaning as I rushed about always trying to make everything perfect. Since “perfect” is unattainable, the whole season had become one of lack, of “not good enough,” of nothing but a series of epic fails and falling short.

My husband, bless his heart, began to realize how much he had been asking of me, expecting of me. Ten, fifteen times a day he’d still ask me to do something and then remember, “oh yeah, she can’t drive, she can’t even walk.” He began to see that he had burdened me with far too many little things, unimportant things, the white noise of our life.

I discovered I was a total control freak too, that as irreplaceable as I am to my family, they can manage without me, that much of their learned helplessness was caused by my forever doing too much for them, always insisting that it be done “right,” meaning I’ll just do it for you.

There are so, so many things you can’t do for them, not really.

I was actually doing harm to those I loved, and to myself, feeling weighed down and over burdened, God becoming just an afterthought, the Guy in the Sky you blame when life goes wrong.

It was the best Christmas ever because He called me back to Him, He hid treasures in my misfortune, He brought healing to my family. He helped me to see some things about myself I had not understood before. He gave me His peace.

Somethings that happen to us are too big, too painful, we can’t see the method to the madness, not this side of heaven anyway, but this one small inconvenience to my life was filled with purpose and meaning and love.

I have since learned to receive what He gives us with joy and anticipation, to trust in His gift giving skills, to not judge the present by the wrapping paper.

So when the bad things come, and they do come, I trust in you Lord. I trust that you have hidden pearls in the cesspool and  beauty in the pain.