Sometimes, we just need reminding that love wins–especially in family and ours is no different.
If I could bottle up this past Christmas, I would. I’d then place it on my mantle–to remember the lessons and never forget. Our lasting family memories weren’t given in the forms of earthly things this year but in lessons learned and the character collected. We prepared for the day sacrificially but didn’t realize what we’d take away once all the wrappings were tossed away.
We’ve learned that nothing is stronger than love–the love of a spouse, the love of a son, a daughter, the love of siblings, the love of true friends, and the love that Jesus Christ extended to us at His timely birth, death, and resurrection. We’ve learned that perfect love has the power to chip away sin in our lives and those we love–one act at a time. We’ve learned that gratefulness is victorious over greed, envy, jealousy, unforgiveness, bitterness, grief, pain, hopelessness, selfishness, rudeness, impatience, hatred, lies, fear, and the like. We know, because we’re living it out by God’s grace, putting it into practice, and are witnessing the fruit that only love can grow.
For instance, our youngest son had to learn some of the hardest lessons this year about coveting his bothers things. In his jealousy, greed, and anger–our little guy decided to destroy his big brothers property, lie, and take from his family anything he could collect in secret. It’s taken a deeper love, a prayerful love, and a faithful love like nothing we’ve put into practice before to help him know what love is and what it isn’t. We are proud of him, because in spite of his loss of privileges and his own things–he’s chosen a grateful heart. He chose gratefulness on Christmas morning for his new slippers, a simple box of crayons, coloring books, and an ornament. A Christmas made simpler by his own choices and stripped of gift fanfare has changed our son. Now, in my closet sits a large box of toys waiting for him to understand that giving is better than receiving and definitely more thrilling than taking and hoarding.
As a parent, these loving lessons were painful to implement with our son and as a family–heartbreaking to accept. Yet, our memories are now filled with treasured lessons money cannot buy. We’ve learned that rather than selfishness–giving to one another is better, rather than a jealous attitude–choosing gratefulness and celebrating with someone else is better, rather than hating–loving our neighbor as ourselves is better.
Yes, these are my memories of a Christmas now past. I pray we never forget and I pray we will allow love to continue its transformation within our family. Now, I’m waiting and watching for the best opportunity to surprise our son with his real Christmas gifts–the gifts we first chose for him. When it happens–he’ll always remember how much we loved him and I pray he will always remember God’s grace and victory in his life–even at the ripe old age of five. Isaiah 43:16, 18-19
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”