began with the very best of intentions. The first day of the Christmas season
rolled around and I was already in full swing—planning and listing and
projecting and enjoying.
took center stage in the home decorating. My blog writing for the month began
full of sentiment and thought and adoration. There were days of writing
planned. Insights to be shared. New points of view to consider. The house
livened up with plump snowmen and glittery red stars and shimmering lights.
one of the early days of the month I realized the dulling of my spirit ran
parallel with the glitter and the flash. Numbed. Deadened. Like a pencil whose
lead is far too close to the wood and the writing is nothing more than
scratching on the paper.
A week in and I began to feel it—like a tree
whose sap stops running because of the frigid cold. But for some reason,
whatever reason I could not get warm. I couldn’t pull my spirit up out of the lethargy.
I tried to
read. I heard others talk about reading the Christmas story, read Facebook
posts about extraordinary Christmas encounters and experiences, but I continued
down this slow spiral into this blank place. A place of fog and mist.
Spiritually I could not lift my head. Writing ceased completely. Scripture
reading stopped. Prayer slowed to a trickle.
right through it all. Sent out Christmas packages. Ordered special gifts.
Laughed at Santa’s antics. Got caught up in the shenanigans of my grandsons’
elves. Listened to our minister deliver really good messages about the ordinary
characters in the birth of Jesus. I watched a children’s Christmas play that
was wonderful—the gospel message strong and relevant. I spoke about hope to a
group of broken and wounded women—looking into their faces almost broke me. But
I just couldn’t find my way spiritually. I kept trying to hear the voice of God
and I heard nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The silence was far too thick. And there was this constant niggling that I was
missing it all. All of it—everything. At one point I felt like I had been hit,
a punch to the jaw and I tried to shake it off, but simply couldn’t.
The absence of
prayer bothered me the most. Prayer for me is usually this wide and powerful
river, banks overflowing, curving and meandering and crashing over in
waterfalls and currents and white foam. During December it became this iced
over creek—barely moving beneath the surface.
At one point
I remember being afraid. Fearful of what the silence meant. What it indicated.
implications overwhelmed me. Paralyzed me.
externally so many things were good. Actually absolutely wonderful things and
events and experiences happened for me during this month. Unbelievable, almost
impossible things. But inwardly and
internally I was struggling. Struggling in a battle I had yet to perceive. And
I was getting weary from the struggle.
No, I was
came and I loved every minute.
after my husband and I stayed in all day. Curled up on the couch with movies
and quiet and books. And I could feel a slight breaking in the ice of my
spirit. The movement of water below the surface increased. Four days after
Christmas I had coffee with a dear friend and in the course of our conversation
the icebergs began to split. I felt them shift and float. And I began to ask
God to wake me up. Five days after Christmas my husband and I declared a date
day—we went off for a whole day. We had an agenda—not to do anything we really
didn’t want to do. We stopped at a precious brother’s house so I could
participate in his only daughter’s one year birthday video. We rummaged in
antique stores, collected in craft stores and indulged in bookstores. Leisurely
we ate at one of our favorite places and stopped and got coffee and hot apple
cider to round out the day.
ran swifter. And the rush of that water pushed back the ice, the fog began to
And I woke up.
And my first
instinct was to thrash the spiritual skin of myself to shreds.
Tamera, you know better.
How in the world did you get into this kind of predicament? You know better than to allow yourself to get
too busy during this holy and sacred season. You were too materialistic and out
of focus. You were too…and my list went on and on. Far too long. Far too much.
My back was black and blue from my own hand.
Spirit’s soft gentle whisper reprimanded me. Chastised me. Revealed the truth
forget Christmas; I forgot Sabbath. I dismissed the need for rest. For space.
For quiet. For stillness. I failed to eat. To drink. Literally and spiritually.
I ignored the signs and symptoms of my own body and spirit as exhaustion iced
can’t do battle when you are exhausted. Are you kidding? You don’t even have
the strength to heave on your armor.
It was in the
stillness of the holy season of the celebration of Jesus’ Incarnation that my
own flesh began to fail. In the hush of the sacred days of Advent my spirit
But I know
this: there were people praying for me. They were battling for me. Around me.
It is now
approaching the middle of January. I have made not one single resolution. I
have not chosen a word for 2015. The new year routine is still unsettled. There’s
something more important happening.
the Spirit is instructing me to be still. He is breaking up the ice. I have
offered to use the pick ax, but the Spirit has stayed my hand.
I believe in
grace, but because of my derailment in December I have experienced it once
again. I forget. Sometimes we forget
the utter profoundness of grace and that it can and does apply to us.
know there are some of you out there who are simply and utterly and completely exhausted.
You are in a battle—physically, emotionally or spiritually. Perhaps war is
being waged on you in all three arenas. You are trying to salvage severed
relationships. Attempting to fight disease, cancer and debilitating illnesses.
Struggling to last until the next pay check. Worried about your children.
Concerned about your parents. Warding off loneliness. Fighting fear. Your armor
is scattered and you don’t have the wherewithal to retrace your steps to find
it. Right now reading your Bible is nothing more than a rote exercise. Praying
is laborious. Fellowship is tedious.
been cold a long, long time. The water of you frozen over in a thick layer of
icy sludge. For some of you there’s very little water moving—a shallow and
narrow trickle. And you are numb. You are exhausted.
I have been
there and know this: I am praying for you. Be assured of this: help is on its
Faithful. Good. Powerful. You know the weakness of us and how it
leads to exhaustion—to the depletion of us. Father, I pray for anyone caught in
the chill of this winter’s bones. I pray for those who have grown cold and numb—even
the sensation of tingling limbs no longer occurring. Oh, sweet God! I am asking
for you to wake them from their slumber. Chip the ice away and fill them with the
warmth of your favor, with the truth of your word and the healing of your
Spirit. Father, I ask that you would replenish these precious people in their exhaustion.
I pray you would provide for them what they need—strength and perseverance.
Lift their heads. They cannot lift their faces to you on their own. I know.
They are too weary. Too tired and wounded from the battles. Father, be near
them. Lend them your strength and energy in their exhaustion. Oh, Father. Wake
them up. Shake them. Nudge their shoulders. Take fear away. Swallow it up for
them. Give them reason to hang on through the silence. Remind them to hold
tight through what seems to be an absence of your Presence. In their hurting,
tired weariness come to them. Remind them that the extension of your grace is
far beyond their imaginations. In the name of Jesus. Amen.