I read from the card, wondering what this could all be about and why I was singled out to get the beautiful, blue presents and secretly brimming with excitement like a chubby-cheeked child.
The words were so familiar, taken from a previous blog post, but I felt like I was hearing them for the first time...
"We pray that every time you look at this gift that you realize that you are not only worth fighting for, but worth dying for. Your life has tremendous value and you are dearly loved..."
Could it be that these boxes held what I thought they did? In a moment of Oprah-like "aha"-ness, I knew what was going on.
Beauty in the Wasteland.
A gift from childhood friends that lifted my arms to heaven when I didn't have the strength to even breathe.
The cardboard boxes held pieces of the Nativity story...pieces that I had boxed up a week ago for another house...pieces that felt so heavy in my hands with memories of the first time I received them...pieces that had stood guard in our living room through many seasons of being a family of three...pieces that represented beauty and wholeness and family...
Today, I saw the beauty of restoration. Four friends decided to show me love without wanting anything in return.
I cried, and I wondered how I deserved such a precious token of encouragement...
I hear a voice across the room, speaking to me with such confidence and conviction:
You are worth it. You are a treasure. We want you to know this.
I thought I'd never see these pieces again, yet here I was, holding that which had been at one time lost.
They tell me that now I can add pieces through life's journey...Birthdays, Christmas, "Just Because" days...
And I am struck by the parallels between this beautiful restoration and my own fumbling, ash-filled mess.
Letting go of things, releasing your hold on circumstances that you really have no capability of holding, realizing there's a choice of living or wasting away..all leave you gloriously empty of self and its snares.
In this surrendered state, pieces are restored.
A measure of faith one day.
A breath of grace the next.
A healing of wounds that have oozed for days, weeks, months, maybe years.
It may not happen all at once. You may still smell smoke from the fiery mess. You may still feel singed and burned from the roaring, flickering flames of hurt.
You will see beauty.
You will see restoration.
In pieces they will come, and you will treasure it all the more because of how they arrived.
Christy, Elizabeth, Meghan, and Stephanie...I am so thankful and blessed for your friendship. You have shown beauty to me. In satiny-blue wrapping paper and cardboard boxes you gave me hope.
You have been a part of the mortar to build up the foundation of restoration in my heart.
Stephanie, Meghan, myself, and Christy
Stephanie, myself, Elizabeth