Varicose veins. That was what started my reflection and time of introspection. Christmas Day is a good time to reflect on life. It also marks the beginning of that random, strange time period of nothingness between Christmas and the new year when no one really knows if it’s Wednesday or Friday or can account for what they did in those six days. But come the first of January, everyone feels the need to start afresh with a new set of goals and the need to have done some soul searching.
Well mine really began before Christmas but I realised some reasonably profound things sitting on a bare mattress in my daughter’s soon-to-be room on Christmas Day while the rest of my family tried to catch up on some sleep before our next outing. While praying I happened to notice my varicose veins. Yes, I have been unfortunate in inheriting these spidery blue and red blood vessels from both sides of the family. And, for my age, they are pretty impressive! Someone once commented that they were the worst she had seen at my age. The prospect of them becoming any less obvious after two pregnancies and not getting any younger bodes well for the future. So there I was, noticing that they were spreading their roots further and becoming more blue and more spidery. Then I see even more spindly red squiggles have appeared and I cringe in despair.
And yet, in that moment, I was amazed at how many little veins took residence on the surface in such a small area. And then I began to think about how all those veins, as unsightly as they are, carry my life blood. Those veins and countless others keep my body alive. And, in that moment on my own, examining those ugly lines that people despise so much, I realised in my restricted human capacity just how marvellous the body is and how the Designer has such perfect yet such intricate designs in place to keep each muscle, each body part oxygenated and alive. My life is sustained by these vessels and on the back of my leg was tattooed a constant reminder of the extraordinary design of my body.
I love Christmastime! And music plays a big part in that. I own many different Christmas CDs by many different artists and they definitely pay themselves off over this season because they are played on repeat! I always remember my mom preferring the carols over the songs and, as much as I liked the carols, the jazzed up, magical versions of “Sleigh Ride” to the more mellow tunes of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” were always my preference. Yet, for the first time this year, I found myself craving the carols. The other songs began to feel hollow and meaningless. Somehow, singing about having a holly, jolly Christmas seemed so empty and worthless compared to depth of songs about our Saviour being born this happy morning and to Him be all glory given – The Word of Father now in flesh appearing. And, strangely, having a child has made me all the more conscious of how I spend this festive season. Don’t get me wrong – I love the magic of Christmas! And I want her to experience that same magic for herself. But it’s so easy for Jesus to be buried beneath mounds of wrapping paper and forgotten. We cast a cursory glance in His direction when we set up a nativity set, or sing a carol or attend a church service. But His birth is overshadowed by gammons and mince pies and the mad rush to shop before we have to fight crowds. His worth is no longer enough. Rather, the season is measured by the worth of gifts and extravagant spending. Is this what I want my child to know? Do I want her to sacrifice the beauty of the manger for the shine of twinkling lights? Or do I want to change the focus of mine, hers and my family’s celebrations and focus on the reason I breathe on this earth? And, not because of guilt, I know that she needs to consider the awe-inspiring, selfless act of Christ to be of greater value than anything she finds under the tree on the 25th. It’s up to us to change the way she sees this “holiday”! And it can only be done through a change in the way I behave.
This being said, I have been regularly humbled by listening to children’s music by Christian artists. Regularly! It’s amazing that songs I listen to seldom convict me the way the simple words of a kid’s jingle do. But once, while washing the dishes as my toddler tottered around the kitchen, the words of Psalty and his voice whining in the background (I love Psalty!) brought me to my knees. I wish I could remember where to find them but the gist of what he was saying cut to the heart – you can sing the words, but if you don’t mean them in your heart, it’s not praise!
Wow! Hit me square between the eyes. For years, I have been singing the words in church because I knew them by heart but I honestly could not think of a time when I last concentrated on what was coming out of my mouth! And, with shame, I have come to realise that this is true of my life as well!
This is a time of the year we all usually spring clean. We feel the need to declutter our minds, lives and homes before the 1st of January and the closer its ominous approach becomes, the more urgent the need becomes. Thank goodness I’m nesting at this time of the year because it has made me a whole lot more determined and ruthless! As a hoarder of sentimental things, I came across letters over 20 years old – letters written in primary school about the starting of clubs (who remembers those?!?) scrawled with TOP SECRET and those silly letters we folded into origami hearts about how much we hated maths and who liked whom. Amongst those, I found many letters of apology from friends ranging from the time I was 8 or 9 until I was nearly out of school. And let me tell you, I was horrified! Horrified at the amount of different people who begged me to be their friend again. Horrified at how many people pleaded with me to not to be angry. And as I read, I felt a deep guilt and shame! What kind of a child was I that people right throughout my schooling career felt the need to constantly try to appease my selfishness and mean treatment of them?!? I realised with sobering pain that, in those times, my life seemed far from a reflection of the God I claimed to serve. And, I wondered how true that was of my life now. I claim to be a follower of Christ but when I think about how I behave, the way I whine, how I speak to my husband and child, the laziness I display around my family, the way I treat my family and my husband’s family, the way I covet and am jealous of the seemingly privileged life of those around me makes me question whether those who know me well – and especially those who don’t – will really believe that I am who I say I am. And worse, will my child long for a relationship with the Saviour or be disenchanted by my feeble “example”? Sobering, chilling thoughts!
Something else that blew my mind was the type of person I socialised with. And again, in this season of reflection and decluttering, I realised that these people had been in my life as a result, no doubt, of much prayer on bended knee before the Lord! Amongst all these notes written in the untidy handwriting of juniors to the more mature swirls in multi-coloured pens, I found that I was both encouraged and challenged by my friends to serve God. From the simple words of “Keep shining for Jesus” to sincere challenges to love the unlovely, to forgive others as Christ would and to “not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (John 3:18), I had been surrounded by people who spurred me on in my relationship with the Lord rather than leading me away from Him. I am truly thankful that my parents prayed for my friendships. I am humbled that God gifted me with such good Christian friends. And I am challenged to pray for the friends and peers of my children starting now! We all know how the school years had a defining impact on who we are today. There are people we regret hanging out with and situations that we found ourselves in that we wouldn’t wish on anyone. So, the question is, am I praying for the friendships and relationships that my child will form? Am I praying that those negative experiences are ones she will stand firm through, that she’ll be able to weather the storm, pick herself up and not lose sight of God? Both my children will no doubt look back on their schooling careers and wish they had done things differently. No doubt they will wish that they hadn’t had to go through certain hardships. But am I praying that they will look back and acknowledge that those relationships, whether good or bad, or those experiences, whether good or bad, made them closer to the Lord and stronger and wiser as individuals? The simple and sad answer is no. No, I am not praying for my children like that. And I have been challenged!
So I guess my time of reflection has left me asking what sort of a reflection I’m giving every day. Is my life reflecting the heart of God or the cesspool of my selfish heart? And, ashamedly, I fear I reflect the latter. Sure, I may not be awful even most of the time. But I know my heart. And God knows the corners of it more deeply than I do. And I know that, if I was honest, I may try to live a good Christian life and maybe I even give that impression, but that my heart is far from desiring to please God. It’s all about me! And maybe I even act as a “good Christian” should, not to make God happy but to make other people think I’m an amazing, godly woman, which actually, beneath the surface, is not the case at all!
So here I am, after pondering and reflecting on my varicose veins among other things and asking myself what this means for my 2019. I guess my reflections on something even as simple as variocse veins need to bring about a change in what and whom I reflect. What will the way I live in the new year say about who I really am and what is truly important to me? Here goes…
What will your reflection be in 2019?Tags: cleaning, convictions, declutter, new beginnings, new year, new year's resolutions, reflections, spring clean, thoughts, varicose veins