If you know me well, you know that I hate to cry in public. It's just something I try to avoid. Consequently grieving in public is sometimes hard. One minute you're fine, then you bump into someone you haven't seen since the funeral, and...either they cry or you do. It's unavoidable.
I expected the holidays to be a bit of a challenge this year, with Robert gone, but I also knew that nothing would lift my spirits (and perhaps prevent the dreaded public tears) more than remembering my Savior and the gift of His birth, so I jumped right in. In fact, I almost couldn't wait to get going! I started setting nativities out. I did. And the Christmas music, I started that too. And it helped... I found great peace in arranging the nativity figures, thinking about Jesus' birth and all the while planning Christmas activities with grand kids.
But, I didn't want to skip Thanksgiving, in fact I wanted to be sure I gave thanks daily and focused on my blessings. I knew that would lift my spirits as well....and it did! I found joy in thinking of the many people in my life whom I loved and loved me. I found joy in small things and big things. All of this lifted my soul. I sailed right through Thanksgiving Day without too many tears. I was pleased..."I'm doing ok," I thought.
One of my favorite songs is Grateful by John Bucchino (I have a blog post about it), I found myself singing the song over and over in my head. I realize now that I never quite made it through the line about, "I feel a Hand holding my hand, it's not a hand you can see, but on the road to the Promised Land, that hand will shepherd me." I surely have felt the Shepherd's hand...and here I am, setting up sheep in nativity sets! The scriptures teach that giving thanks for all that we do have, even in difficult times, will bring us closer to our Heavenly Father. Maybe thats what happened, maybe the tender gratefulness opened my heart, I'm not sure, but i was not prepared for what happened on Sunday.
You know how little things sometimes pile up and conspire together? That was Sunday. For the first time since the funeral, I sat in church alone. The first Sunday back to church after Robert's passing, my oldest son brought his sweet family and joined me, knowing my first meeting alone would be hard. On that Sunday he was running late, though, so I went in and saved a seat...but as soon as the singing began I sent him a text saying, "This is harder than i thought". After that first Sunday, I found people to sit with...that helped. But on this Thanksgiving Sunday, most of my friends were out of town, so I sat by myself. No biggie...I've done it before, right? And then came the talks about gratitude. The sacred words of truth fell on my heart and opened my tear ducts...and..well...I cried through the whole meeting. I found it interesting that I could smile, be thankful and then cry because Robert was gone and I missed having him beside me to share it with. They weren't tears of sadness really, they were tears of grateful feelings. Gratitude so big, I felt like singing. I have been so blessed! I give thanks, and in the process discover more blessings! More blessings, more tears. More gratitude and a renewed desire to serve others, to share His Good News. More good feelings, More tears.
On the way home, the words of another Christmas carol crept into my thoughts.
"What shall we give to the Babe in the manger, what shall we offer the child in the stall? Incense and spices and gold we've got plenty, are these the gifts for the King of us all?
"What shall we give to the boy in the temple, what shall we offer the Man by the sea? Palms at his feet and hosannas uprising, are gifts for Him who will carry the Tree.
"What shall we give to the Lamb who was offered, rising the third day and shedding His love? Tears for his mercy we'll weep at the manger, bathing the infant come down from above."
I guess crying in Church isn't such a bad thing, after all.
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