On Thanksgiving Day 1999, I put Christmas lights on my house. It took all the courage I could find. I was still really sad about the loss of my first marriage. Juliette, who wasn’t even two, was spending the holiday with her dad. I felt so alone. This wasn’t at all how life was suppose to be.
As I recall, it was a warm and sunny day. I took the divorce very hard. I was broken, both physically and emotionally. From February to April — a solid three months — I was unable to eat anything and lost more than 30 pounds. By fall, my health started to come back. As I moved the ladder down under the eaves, stringing the lights from nail to nail, I kept feeling pressed to get off the ladder and go inside my house and pray.
I did not want to stop hanging the lights. I was afraid if I stopped, I’d never finish them. This small celebratory act took all the faith I could muster. But, eventually, I stopped arguing with God and got off the ladder and went inside.
That is when my life changed forever.
I laid down and looked up at the ceiling and began to pray. In my mind I saw a vision of Christ sobbing. Tears were streaming down his face and He imparted to me this sentiment: Your divorce hurt me, too. I was completely stunned by the grieving Jesus, shattered for me.
I was reminded that marriage is a covenant between man, woman and God. My covenant was broken and never once had I grieved alone. From that day on I wanted my life to be about sharing this Jesus. I wanted others to know that God’s love is deeply personal. It is man by man and child by child. He does not love in mass. He does not gather His arms around the world. He gathers His arms around each of us — whatever you conceive Him to be – it is He embracing each individual sheep in the larger flock.
This is what I wanted my life to be about: sharing this love and hope. That in our darkest hours God will carry us, and that when the clouds part and we are no longer grieving, He shows His grief to us — so we know just how much He loves us. As I wrote before, many years ago, only when I stopped crying was I able to see that Jesus had been crying right beside me all along.
I love this song from 1964, He’s Everything To Me. The words are very special. I’ve probably posted them before, but some truths we can’t repeat often enough. I pray daily for the strength to walk the narrow way. It is not easy, but the wide lanes are actually far more dangerous.
In the stars His handiwork I see,
On the wind He speaks with majesty,
Though He ruleth over land and sea,
What is that to me?
I will celebrate Nativity,
For it has a place in history,
Sure, He came to set His people free,
What is that to me?
Till by faith I met Him face to face,
and I felt the wonder of His grace,
Then I knew that He was more than just a
God who didn’t care,
That lived a way out there and
Now He walks beside me day by day,
Ever watching o’er me lest I stray,
Helping me to find the narrow way,
He’s Everything to me.
All these zinnia photos are by me.