God is good, even if we do take unholy liberties with His name, His Son, His season or His reason. God's abounding grace is never more evident than after my kids are back with their mom and I am alone with my heavenly Father. Nothing like a good ol' fashioned ass-kicking to make me see what a tiresome brat I can be.
Actually being a minister, some might think I have a grander view of the divine at such a time as Christmas. Good luck! If anything, the old man inside me is pissing and moaning so freekin' loud, nary a heaven-sent thought passes my noodle....at least not until my beloved mom develops a pulmonary embolism or my dear sister-in-law suffers a massive coronary 3 days before Christmas. Funny how things fall into perspective during those times and after those times, as well.
Christmas day this year seemed a little lack-lustre. Because of my sister-in-law's heart attack, our family get-together for Christmas day was postponed 2 days. So when my kids came to my house at 9am on Christmas day, I was a little relieved that I wouldn't immediately have to drag my 12 year-old son away from his new electronic drum kit I got him. But as the sun seemed to quickly dive into the west, I realized I hadn't given any thought to what to have for dinner. The stores were closed and I had very little around the house to eat. I had a couple of russet potatoes, some frozen chicken, a soy chicken patty for my vegetarian daughter and some Ralphs brand flaky dinner rolls. Hey, I'm a decent cook. I could make do with that. Right? Well...no. I over-cooked the chicken, and probably did the soy patty similar disservice. The dinner rolls came out a bit over-done, but I managed to salvage the most tender ones for my kiddos. They didn't touch their respective chicken. They sampled the roll, and while my son devoured his potato, my daughter only ate a few bites of hers. All in all, she had maybe five bites of dinner only exceeded by my voracious son's nine biter. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
I got up early the next morning and decided to do a solid for my girl and refresh the load of laundry she left in the dryer the night before. So I set the dryer to 10 minutes and looked over the mess of Christmas stuff strewn over the entire floor of my garage. It had come to that state of disarray three weeks earlier when I emptied the big box of Christmas decorations I hadn't touched since putting them away January 2, 2008. I grabbed a few festive items to hang on the walls of a place I still fail to see as home. My home ceased to exist as of January 26, 2008 when my wife of nearly 15 years told me she wanted a divorce. I won't dig back into that history, but long-story-short, I was compelled this past morning the day after christmas, to put the items scattered in my garage, back into the box. This time however, I was actually looking at the items. Each one a vivid memory of a wife, life, and time that I adored. Each one a painful reverie of what was no more and probably never to be again. To make it all worse, the buzzer on the dryer was reminding me to retrieve and fold my daughters things before they wrinkle.
As I began pulling items from the dryer, I was awakened from my Christmas past reminiscing by the cold hard reality of my daughter's true age. I wasn't folding the tiny doll clothes of the sweet petite girl I used to cradle in my arms. I was being reminded with each item of clothing that my little girl was a woman who would be off to college—long before I was ready to give her up. I know dads and moms struggle with the same hurtful revelations every day. But that particular day, it was coupled with the painful reminders of a failed marriage with another girl I still love and miss horribly. A marriage that I thought would at least see the inside of a counselor's office before one of us threw in the towel. I guess that is the most frustrating thing about the end of my marriage. I wasn't given the opportunity to fight for it. My wife, Lucy, says that she fought long and hard for too many years. Trouble is, she fought alone. I wasn't aware of how unhappy she was. Actually I don't think she knew how unhappy she was until someone else made her compare what she had...to what she could have. The grass being greener and what-not.
Suffice it to say that I got my ass kicked for Christmas. I saw how badly the world can beat me down when I dare to step out from under God's protective arm. I had those moments of close relationship to God when my mom and sister-in-law where close to death in the hospital. But as soon as the present dangers were past, so where my moments of closeness to God. My real crisis came in the morning after sending my kids back to their mom. I was alone when I called my mom regarding some mysterious bank information that suddenly turned up on my credit card account. Anyhow, after talking about lots of stuff and breaking down in tears several times during the conversation, I came to the realization that what I could do so easily with my mom, I couldn't do with my Creator. Well, I'm ready if you are, Lord.