Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Laying Down My Isaac

Peace . . . quiet . . . soft gentle music . . . twinkling tree with a brilliant star . . .
Restored. Rejuvenated. Rested.

I laid down my Isaac. Like Abraham's obedient offering of his son as a sacrifice to God, I placed something precious upon the altar and stepped back in tears. Whereas God instructed Abraham to take down His son and substitute a ram, God did not give my precious object a reprieve, but burned it up and supplied grace in its place. I received the blessed touch of His healing ways.

* * * * *

An unnecessary burden weighed heavy on my heart for years, but as long as I kept moving along with the decorations and the menus and the holiday gaiety I thought it would melt away like excess body fat (yeah, we all know how well that theory works with extra pounds and sorrows of the heart and so on).

As I embarked on the annual tree trimming foray, I tackled the lights and the garland, as I always do. When finished, I got ready for my favorite part – placing The Star. But wait! Has anyone seen the Tree Top Star? No, nope, uh-uh . . . nowhere to be found. I looked again and came up empty. I set out on a mission to find that star. That elusive Christmas Star sent me on a hunt through closets, rafters, attics, and more. It HAS to be here!!! I looked. I fumed. I rearranged. I reorganized. I ranted. Still no star.

In the meantime my family decorated the tree and generally ignored me. I popped in to add an ornament here and there, but left again to look somewhere new or look harder in the same places. They cared not whether the star or the angel rested atop the tree. It really didn’t matter to them what material object we supplied on top. The sentiments evoked by the tree spoke volumes of good cheer, celebrations of His birth, and our drawing near to the light regardless of which bauble held the top spot. I knew all that, BUT . . . it all must fit together according to plan. Don’t they see that?

As I toured the house next door a final time I finally broke down in anguish and cried out to the Lord. “Okay, Lord. I’ll forget about the star and use the angel! I’m just too tired to look again and I’m missing the fun back home.” Thus, I laid The Star at His feet and more. You see, I knew (and so did He) that it wasn’t the missing Star that prompted my undoing, but my missing parents. Roughly two years ago my mother suffered another breakdown and delusions and all the rest. She fled the home next door that we had provided for her comfort and she fled all bonds with our family. She chose another path and left us. My father swooped in to take up residence in the vacant house, but since I have barely spent more than a day or two on average with my father each year since he left during my childhood . . . well, I don’t need to give details for you to see the futility of that arrangement. And so, he too chose to retreat into his own world again.

Now, though he hadn’t previously been a part of my life beyond the barest of lip service, when my father left he extinguished a dream I had been carrying around since girlhood. I had always longed for the happy reunion that I know so well from sappy, delightful Christmas stories. You know the ones where the long lost, crusty old grandpa comes back and melts into a puddle of love and the whole family happily splashes around in joy as the credits come up. I had been carrying that hope around MY WHOLE LIFE. In a matter of months I had lost my mother and my father, or rather the hope of them becoming motherly and fatherly. Devastated but determined, I put one foot in front of the other and carried on.

Despite evidence to the contrary, I continued to work out plans and puzzle through the mess. I stoked up the flame of hope; I KNEW I could fix it. Just like searching for the star . . . I knew it was there, but where?? I refused to admit that my determination couldn’t extend my reach to successfully gather back those who had left. When my frustration mounted beyond control I shouted out to God in that chilly garage, “I just don’t understand! Where is that star! And while I’m at it, why am I rattling around in this big old house that I bought for my mother – who left me – and then tried to enjoy a reunion with my father under the same roof – who also chose to leave me . . . AGAIN!!” I wept without an answer. I just stood there crying over all the “stuff” I didn’t have. I didn’t praise God for all of my blessings; I merely bombarded Him with my disappointments.

No light broke through to bathe me in peace. No angelic choir sang to punctuate an epiphanic moment. I simply snuffled away the remains of my sorrow, wiped my cheeks with the back of my hand and decided to carry on, as I always do. In that final tearful denouement I reached out to pick up an empty box lying in the middle of the floor. I’d been walking over and around it as I searched and I decided to heave it back onto the recycle pile, where it had obviously fallen from. When I took hold of the box to toss it away I heard a faint, “Tinkle, tinkle.” I stopped instantly. “No!” I blurted in the silent and chilly garage. I pulled back the cardboard flaps and espied the glass golden star and several other glass ornaments rolling freely in the box. Anything broken? No. It had been sitting in the middle of the garage floor all that time in a cock-eyed box that didn’t “look” like a box capable of holding Christmas decorations. Gary had seen it and passed it by; I picked it up and found it so light that surely it held nothing and walked on by without looking inside.

Laughter broke from my stifled chest. The garbage held the treasure – how poetic . . . how Scriptural . . . how humbling. I let go as I laughed . . . let go of the notion that I must have parents by my side to complete the picture of Christmas, to be pleasing in God’s eyes and in the eyes of the world. I thought how Mary and Joseph traveled away from family as they followed God’s path. How they saw the goodness of God and His loving ways without ever submitting a list of “Musts” for their happiness. I released myself from yet another burden and walked home with a joyful gait, clutching The Star – like a Pearl of Great Price.


Karen said...

Debbie, that was so hard. I'm glad that you surrendered. God can only give peace when we're willing to ask for it.

Kat said...

How poetic, indeed. Just beautiful.

Flea said...

Oh honey. Thank you for sharing your pain. I respond to it through a veil of tears. I spent 15 years just knowing I'd never have another Christmas with my parents. On this earth I'll never have one with my dad, but I'm marveling in the time with my mom now.

Now my husband feels the knife of separation from his own parents, my children from the grandparents who celebrated Christmas with them from their birth. It hurts. It should. But there's so much to celebrate. Thank you for the reminder to lay it all down at the Master's feet.

sukipoet said...

Oh Debbie. I am crying tears for you. Of sadness and of joy. A beautiful story. I am so sorry for your sons death and its anniversary coming during this stressful Christmas season. I am so sad about your loss of your MOm. How lovely of you to provide this house for her, even though in the end she rejected it. I am so sorry about your dad too. But, what a miracle for you to open the overlooked and rejected box and find what you were desiring.

I am sure your tree, topped by the star, is beautiful. This christmas story...it too is beautiful and thank you for sharing a part of who you are.

Thank you for your kind words re: my Mom too. Blessings, Suki

dawn klinge said...

Wow. You really touched my heart with this post...just beautiful.

Becky said...


What an ordeal of emotion and spiritual searching. I find many times that the tears must flow to help dissolve some of the notions we are holding on to. You are loved my dear sister, deeply at that.

sukipoet said...

Yes, Debbie. I can imagine all the feelings arise at Christmas, it is such a family time and the missing him becomes more. Blessings to you and may you too find comfort to help you through the sad parts that hover around the happy parts of the season.

Karen Deborah said...

i'm so grateful we have EACH OTHER! My mom died when I was 26, my Dad has always been emotionally detached but I accept him now the way he is.
The Season of christmas does make us think of family, hearth and home. those missing, those gone on to be with the Lord; and those who are here and fill our cup with love. Those like you. Love love love you.

Michelle said...

Oh Debbie, I'm so terribly sorry for your pain. Somehow I think we all have a little pain like yours in our lives. You did all you could for both of them but in the end we cannot control what others choose to do. We need to accept and move on to become stronger. It's sad but you need to take care of YOU and I'm glad you found peace and your beautiful star. :)

xoxo Lots of hugs.

Carrie said...

Beautiful, very meaningful post!

FancyHorse said...

That was beautiful, heartfelt, sad, but also expressed joy in the Lord and His loving provision for us. I am so sorry that your parents wouldn't or couldn't be parents to you. I'm glad you could release that burden to our heavenly Father, and He will fulfill all your needs.


Laura ~Peach~ said...

and I thought that my biological parents (father died and mother simply went away) was rough after 8 years of a relationship with them.... thank you... I needed this post!
Love n hugs Laura

Grandma Tillie's Bakery said...

What a heart wrenching story, yet inspirational as I think of how wonderful you are with your own family. You truly are a treasure from God--thank you for sharing.

martha said...

So beautiful.... thank you!

"Create Beauty" said...

Holidays can be so hard as we envision the 'perfect' one with the happy endings. My heart also breaks at this time over a prodigal loved one, a situation I cannot heal but can only trust to God. The story is not over yet.
Thank you for sharing your heart and your longings, may God bring you comfort and be your strength.
You are creating beauty and joy for your family, a treasure they will always remember.

Mim said...

Thanks for sharing from your heart your pain and loss of your parent's in your life.
And star...finding it in the garbage.
What a metaphor.
Thinking of you