As I reflect on this night, Christmas Eve 2014, I’m reminded of one in particular that changed me completely. A night that deeply affects me every year, as I re-live the events from years ago. On December 21, 1989, while visiting home from undergrad, during winter break, I had to have sinus surgery. The risks were somewhat high, given that the sinuses were the ethmoids, so I had potential blindness and/or brain damage as concerns. I never thought that, 4 days later, I would hemorrhage (twice in one night) and lose 80% of my blood (as it turns out, a major artery had been nicked during surgery, but clotted up until it “released”). I lost consciousness and my heart stopped. Clearly I was revived, since I’m here to tell the story.
But the story brings to mind a phrase my pastor said the other day during our Christmas service: “seeing the baby through the barn”. It was in relation to the trip that Mary took with Joseph, when she was “obviously pregnant”, riding on a donkey (yeah, I’m not so sure how I would have felt about THAT mode of transportation during pregnancy!), and arriving in Bethlehem to find no rooms available.
So they made do with a barn. Seriously, a BARN?! I can’t help but think Mary must have been thinking “This place STINKS, is filled with all kinds of nasty creatures, and isn’t the least bit comfortable”. Yet, they had shelter…they had each other…and, the greatest gift that evening, the birth of a baby. THE baby.
The parallel Pastor Jacob drew regarding “seeing the baby through the barn” was to “see the blessing in the midst of the burden”. This is something that has always spoken to me, as I am a “glass-half-full” kinda girl…one who looks at the positive things around me, while from the outside, it might appear that my life is going up in flames.
But regarding that day and that situation…Christmas Eve 1989…I had never been able to look at it as a blessing. I couldn’t re-frame it into something meaningful, as it was so emotional for me to even think or speak about, that I would physically shake.
So I was faced with a challenge. Could I turn what had become a vividly horrific memory into something positive? And, more importantly, could I translate that to my current set of circumstances, which I realized had turned into a HUGE “barn”?!
The short answer is…yes. After much contemplation and using the psychological “tools” I have in my back pocket, so to speak, I recognized that the most simple answer is the biggest blessing. I survived that night, rather than surrendering to death’s beckon.
As I said, that’s the short answer. For the longer answer, you’ll have to read about it in my upcoming book. But suffice it to say, I have faced death NUMEROUS times, and every time, I pull through a stronger person…a more faith-filled person. And a person who shares her stories in the hopes of helping others to be more positive.
And that, my friends, is why I toast tonight…with my glass “half-full” for the first time on Christmas Eve.
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