You might have heard me talk about how excited I was to go home to Ohio for Christmas. All my friends knew how eager I was, my family waited in anticipation for us to arrive... But here's the thing—we never made it to Ohio. We were supposed to fly out the Thursday before Christmas, but poor weather and inadequate staffing at the airline meant we were stuck.
We were rescheduled for Friday, then Christmas Eve. Finally, the day after Christmas, after four cancelled flights, four heartbreaks, countless tears, and many hours spent on hold, we finally gave up. I consider myself quite the resilient person, but enough was enough. We all resigned ourselves to having to try to get together another time.
As disappointed as we all were at missing both Christmas and our make-up Christmas together, things really could have been worse. Hundreds of people spent Christmas on the cold floor of an airport. My husband and I at least got to spend it with each other in the comfort of our own home. Luggage got lost, meaning hundreds if not thousands of carefully wrapped Christmas presents were lost. I'll still get to hand-deliver presents in several week's time.
And just because things don't work out the way you had hoped, that doesn't mean they don't work out at all.
A friend's family invited us to spend Christmas with them. They welcomed us with open arms like real members of the family. They invited us to share in their food and annual traditions. The love was palpable. And that is what Christmas is all about. Here is a family that is truly living out Jesus's command to love their neighbors as themselves (Mark 12:30-31). It warmed my still broken heart in ways they may never know. I pray that someday God allows my husband and me to bestow the same blessing on someone else.
We're going into a new year. The magic of Christmas is quickly fading. But it doesn't have to. We can hold on to these special moments and let them warm our souls on cold nights. We can still enjoy and practice these moments of love and generosity.
At the start of a new year, people are excited by new possibilities. "This is my year!" they all think. This may or may not be your year. Honestly, it probably won't be. 2020 was notoriously supposed to be everyone's year and turned out to be no one's year.
So much can happen in 365 days. So much joy. So much heartbreak. It's not always easy to classify an entire year as simply "good" or "bad". But even in the midst of things not working out, God can still move.
God knew that, even though I desperately missed my family, I needed a reminder that He called me here for a reason, so He gave me another family. Not to replace the one I have, but to show me that family and Christmas is what you make of it. And this new year is what you make of it.
Even if things don't go according to plan (and they often won't) there is still beauty and joy to be found. There are still lessons to be learned. There is still a God who can redeem any circumstance.