In keeping with a resounding theme, Advent, this year, has truly served as a time to reflect on love—familial love that runs deep and matters so much, especially in such a fragile world. I have spent time waiting for updates from a dear friend who waited at her mother’s bedside for her to transition from earthly life to a heavenly presence. When the final message came, I quietly shed tears for her heartache, for her mother’s relatively short life and battle with aggressive cancer, and for love lost. I thought of my own mother, and my heart swelled a bit.
I am so fortunate to know a mother’s love, and I do believe my boys are just as fortunate. To be held in a home that puts love and grace at its core is something to be cherished in a world where bad news seems to come quickly every single morning.
Last Sunday, our priest was sharing some quotes by children addressing the question of what exactly love means. Many were quite humorous – love means kissing even though that’s gross, love means holding hands and not hiding it when your friends see, love means sharing your French fries even though they’re your favorite – but one answer in particular caught my breath and caused my eyes to water.
Bobby, age 7, answered with, “Love is what’s in the room on Christmas morning if you stop opening presents and just listen.”
Immediately I reflected on Jesus. I reflected on his presence in our living room on Christmas morning, and I had an image in my mind of his love falling over my family members in front of me — a glowing love, a shining love — a love too bright to penetrate or disturb.
I reflected on my mom, who is always present – in physical form, by text or call, or in my thoughts. I am so grateful for her love that has truly stood the test of raising daughters.
I reflected on the love I have for my own family, my husband and our three boys. There are times when I can become so frustrated with our boys—and even annoyed by my husband—but I always find myself pursuing them; my heart continually seeks their presence. Even in my anger, I will find myself walking into their rooms, attempting to engage in conversation.
I reflected on the love that I have for my extended family and dear, true friends. The laughter, the joy, the tears, the moments they all add to my life that truly exemplify the greatness of the small things.
And I thought of my friend, whose Christmas this year will seem incomplete, whose mother will not be present to radiate her own love for her daughter and their family.
Love is such a gift. In all our imperfections, mistakes, and wrong turns in life, we are still gifted the greatest love in all of creation. And it shines so brightly for me this season. It is shining through the darkness; for the darkness will not ever overcome it (John 1:5).
For those who might not share the joy of Christmas morning with faces of dear, loved ones, I pray that those hearts—and all our hearts—remain open to the love that is coming back to us, once again, utterly accessible.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”