Sunday, January 12, 2014

Costco Stole My Grace This Christmas

It was the week before Christmas.  All the stores were a mess, but I thought that Costco would be a good place to go to get gifts for my ESL folks. WRONG.

We got there and the car next to us was parked like a total idiot. For real, it was parked at an extreme angle. Well, I parked and started getting out the 2 year old when the driver and passenger came to their car. The passenger obviously could not wait the 3 seconds for me to get my kid out, so she opened her door and smashed me in the back. No apologies, and yet I withheld the verbal lashing that was running through my head.

When we walked in, I realized what I had gotten myself into. The store was JAM PACKED. But it wasn’t until a fellow shopper rammed me with her cart that I told the boys “Let’s go to Target.” We slowly made our way to the door and to the parking lot. I can honestly say that I saved Judah’s life by pulling him out of the way of a hurried driver taking a turn too quickly.

We got in the car and I felt drained….like someone sucked my Christmas joy away. Fuckin’ Costco.

This Christmas was the worst too. I have been feeling very disconnected to my community as it is, but we had to miss 3 family Christmases due to bronchitis, fevers, ear infections, migraines, throw-ups, and coughs that wouldn’t relent. Well, except Eric, my husband. He was spared which was a blessing because he took care of us! Our Christmas morning consisted of waking up late, opening gifts, singing happy birthday to Jesus, then half of us going straight to bed. Eric carried around our 2 year old for 3 straight days. He was limp with fever and pain.

We lost track of days. I couldn't do anything over the break because I was the sickest. We didn't go out of the house until the last Sunday of break.  All those laid out plans of visiting the DIA, the historical museum, the Detroit Puppet Theatre, etc.—all gone.

So I am writing all of this because every time something crazy or stupid happened (me getting a flat tire on the way to work, or a million other examples), I dug deeper in a pit of self pity. The pit did its best to suck me in. I was talking to a good friend (something that I started to shy away from) and she asked if I was depressed. I think I was. So being aware was something good.

Church was a mixed bag. The feelings of disconnect are almost worse there…which is soooooooo weird because our church is a huge part of our lives and we are fairly involved;  but this season of our lives we have been pulling away a bit. The good part of church has been the message. Today in particular.

Today Beau asked the question “When do you know you have arrived?” Like, when do you know life is great? My answer was something like “When we can pay all of our bills on time and we can buy groceries without worry about the bill.” We have low standards. J  There’s a focus on the self. I have made it! Me. I.  The flip side of the question was what does your ground zero look like? Your Zero?  Your weakest point? This is the point that Elijah and I went out to blow bubbles. Which was fine by me because I didn't want to think about that answer.  At all.

We came back in for the last song. That’s when the Spirit was like, “um, Stephanie, you need to answer this.”


And the song that James sang was a vintage Genesis song, “Your Love Never Fails”.

I had memories flooding back to signing this song 8-9 years ago to Elijah at the end of church. Signing it so that he could understand.

The line in the song that I still can’t sign to this day (without bursting into tears) is: “There may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning.”

Sweet friends, the word pain brings up SOOOO much. That’s my ZERO. My weakness. It’s my son Elijah. It’s the non-stop ‘just being too short on money this week’. It’s the disconnect from friends because we are the only family I know that has to hire 2 babysitters in order to go out.

But the redemption that I need to keep reminding myself of is THERE IS JOY IN THE MORNING. Seasons come and go, some longer than others, joy comes back. Even at my ZERO. This season of ZERO started at Costco but ended today with the reminder of Joy and the promise that my Father makes ALL things work together for my good.

“Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong.” Man, I hate being weak. But I’m so thankful that at those low, weak, humbling times that I have a Father who picks me up and cares for me. 

Thanks for reading. 
Peace to you.