a Christmas baby and the year 2020


I’m feeling quiet and reflective tonight. Yes, it’s the time of year.
The end of the year. The holidays. The story of Jesus that changes our lives. And it’s also this particular year. 2020. A year I will never forget.

I think back to 2011. This is the year I whispered the words to Caleb, “we’re pregnant!” We found out the baby would be due on Christmas. This pastor’s heart was overjoyed to most likely get to experience the whole of Advent, pregnant with our child. I wanted to preach about Mary and anticipate, as she did, pregnant with the promised presence of God. We had already experienced miscarriage. So we felt the sweet joy of this little one even more. This was a dream come true for me; this baby an answer to our prayers.

Then, things changed.
Part way through, we lost the baby.
The grief was heavy.

As Christmas came around, I found God with me in new ways. God who held me in the dark. God who saw my tears. God who gave me inspiration. God who lit the candle of hope in my heart.

One of the deep truths that crystalized in this time was the ability to hold space for both/and. So often, we think it’s either this or that. This feeling or that feeling. Instead, God was inviting me to hold onto the tension of both. This and that.

Grief intermingled with gratitude.
Anger and anticipation.
Tears and hope.
Heaviness and lightness.
… allowing each one the space to come, allowing the other to fade away in a sort of dance.

I knew these moves. After losing my dad to cancer I found comfort in God’s word to me: “The only way is through, Tara.” Through the grief, through the pain, through all that will never be, this side of heaven. There was life on the other side, but I must have the courage to go through. To be changed by the love I felt.

But the loss of this Christmas baby led me deeper into this experience, deeper into the heart of God.

I remember that practice this year. A year when I need this again.

This Christmas, my heart is overflowing with joy. I look at my beautiful children and feel so much love for them, it’s hard to even put it into words. The sparkle in their eyes as we snuggle in Christmas jammies, bake cookies, and deliver presents. The eagerness for tomorrow – Christmas Day.

And I feel grief. Missing the little ones who aren’t here. Missing my dad and my mother-in-law. And this year, most of all, my heart aches as I mourn the precious ones we lost during 2020. Members and friends I will never get to see back in “their” pew. Families with an empty chair at their table.

So I come back to the dance again…

Grief and gratitude.
Tears and hope.
Anger and anticipation.
Heaviness and lightness.

This year, maybe you and I need to hold the space for all that we are experiencing. Maybe that looks like writing down the joy, delight, and success of this year, and alongside writing down every disappointment, cancelation, and most of all, every lost life.

There is room for all of it.

As God enlarges your heart’s capacity to sit with the highs and lows of this year, may you find God with you. God who came, and God who is coming to be with you.

In whatever you are feeling, please remember you are not alone.
We’ve all there, have been there, or will be there.
This year, perhaps more than before, many of us are there right now.
Sending virtual hugs. <3