Originally published on December 15, 2016 at the Rebecca Bender Initiative.
For many of us, the holiday season has the tendency to trigger memories we would rather forget: feelings of loneliness or abandonment, reminders of horrors we have experienced, or the grief of loss.
I used to struggle with extreme anxiety when I saw Christmas decorations go up in stores and become saturated with red and green tidings of good cheer. I would weep uncontrollably when I saw Christmas lights being put up on the houses in my neighborhood. And as people gathered with excitement around me (including posting pictures of their loved ones on social media), it was my habit to silently retreat into my introverted shell so no one could see the raw depth of my grief.
Over the years, though, I have slowly learned to appreciate the beauty of a fresh snowfall and the magic that it produces on Christmas morning. I have opened up and have allowed myself to feel the pure joy that comes from entering into a family’s tradition of decorating their Christmas tree, as well as embracing the innocence of making Christmas cookies for the first time. And in the midst of this… I have slowly softened and have allowed God come in to heal some of the deepest pain I have experienced.
I am not fully healed, nor do I see complete healing as a destination that I will fully achieve on this side of heaven. But as I choose to bow my pain and my healing journey to the Lord, one of the things I am learning is the fact that He not only heals deeply - His healing is permanent. God doesn’t go halfway with the healing He brings. Instead, God takes each of us on our own healing journeys and intimately meets us in the midst of our needs.
One visible way that I see healing in the midst of this holiday season is the fact that I have been humming Christmas carols for the past two months, I have longed to put up a Christmas tree (which is something that my husband and I can’t do this year due to moving), and I can now look at Christmas lights with peaceful joy, which is a complete miracle.
It was several years ago while being triggered by Christmas lights and the memories associated with the ways that they were used by my traffickers to indicate that I was open for business, God told me to go for a drive around the neighborhood; He told me that He wanted me to show me something.
As I got in the car, I remember the tension in my body and the intense pain cloaked around my heart. But instead of turning around and going back into the safety of my house, I put the key in the car and while the engine was gently humming, I heard God whisper that He wanted me to drive down the streets with the most Christmas lights on them. I was mad. Why would He ask me to do that???!!!
Slowly as I drove around the snowy neighborhood, instead of seeing the trauma’s from the past, I saw the beauty of colors I had never seen before. I saw childlike simplicity. I saw joy that brought a small and tender smile to my lips. And I saw what God wanted me to see. I saw Him!
I wrote the following poem when I got home and reflected my encounter with Christ.
As I look at the Christmas lights shining on houses and trees, A cloud of darkness descends, because of what these lights say to me. They speak of pain, sin, and stain inflicted by man's sick, selfish greed. In desperation I plead "Heavenly Father, speak to my hurting heart and tell me what these lights mean to Thee"
He said "Daughter, look at the lights as you drive around tonight, and I will tell you what each color means to me, in the beautiful twilight. Christmas lights reflect My love, light, and hope I bring this season bright. So despite what has been said and done "look on them from the viewpoint of My sight."
"Daughter, first of all, remember that Christmas is a celebration of Me, As a little helpless babe, I came to earth, to pay your sins penalty. So, every time you see a RED light bulb... a beautiful reminder let it be, of the precious blood I gave and the victory I won on Calvary.
"The light from the WHITE Christmas light you see, brightly radiates to everyone my transparent purity. Daughter, you've been washed clean by my blood totally. No matter the past, you're clean and shine My purity."
"The BLUE light that radiates, reflects that you are royalty my princess fair, I'm the King of Kings, who looks after you with love, concern, and care. I love you so much to see you hurt, My heart it does tear. Please come to me, rest in my arms. I promise to speak peace to you there."
"YELLOW, as it shines, is an earthly reminder of My Kingdom bright. Darling Daughter, I've known every time you have felt that there was no hope in sight. Remember, though, your time here is but a moment. New hope I have given -- live in Eternity's light."
As I drove around looking upon the light of the warm ORANGE glow, I began to hear beautiful angelic voices flow. They were singing "Glory to God..." in praise and adoration. So now, whenever I see this warm winter light, I will worship the giver of Salvation.
With open ears, I wait in wonder to what the Lord is going to teach me with GREEN, I hear Him, but in my weak frailty, I'm having trouble understanding fully what He means. He is telling me "Daughter, though your life I want to do something amazing, beyond what can be seen. Trust Me, I'm making something beautiful in my arms rest and lean.”
One of the last things said before the trip was over was a challenge to me."Daughter, you are a bright shining light in a world of darkness what you walk free. Light overcomes the darkness. So let your light shine for all to see. When they see My light radiating through you people will return to Me!"
* * * * * *
The tears well up in my eyes as this journey with my Lord fades away. Although I am home now, the lessons I have learnt will forever stay.
I never knew that Christmas lights could ever be so pure and bright, but they are - because I now see them from His sight.
With joy I will gaze upon each Christmas light I see, and think of my Savior and all that He did for me.
— Jessa Dillow Crisp