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Friday, December 04, 2009

A Decorated Heart

Before I go any further in what I am about to write, let me make a quick disclaimer . . . this is not the first year that I haven't decorated for Christmas. I am an "all the way or no way" kind of person and I either need to do something to the maximum, or not do it at all. The first year that I didn't decorate for Christmas was when my husband was in Iraq. I didn't "feel" like doing Christmas that year and the best way for me to get through that 'holiday' was to fast forward through it and act like it wasn't happening. "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt"; when you can't afford good psychotherapy, pretending like something isn't really happening can be a very effective coping mechanism. (*insert canned laughter soundtrack here*)

So, this will be the second year that I won't be decorating for the holiday. If you don't know much about me, not decorating for Christmas is pretty much the opposite of my personality. I am about as much of a homebody as there is. I love beautiful and pretty things. I love decorations. Sometimes the only way that I can motivate myself to sweep up the dust bunnies that seem to have daily conventions at my house is to redecorate, rearrange, or better yet, "reorganize."

Last November, I had an emotionally cathartic experience and went into my work and quit my job. Wham, bam, take this job and ----. (You get the drift). There were several things that went into this decision: I was working about 60 hours a week for peanuts - errrrm, I mean a "salary." My children and I were passing ships in the night. My then five year old was having to get up at 5:45 in the morning to catch a 6:15 bus. My stepson was struggling academically through the third grade. My sweet precious baby girl was being raised by her daycare teacher rather than by her mama. I was a MEAN and CONTROLLING (it's hard to admit that in black and white on a computer screen) wife who ran her household like a Nazi SS training facility. I would get up to read my Bible and pray at about 4:30 a.m. and I would promptly be drooling on the couch at about 4:37 a.m.

All of the above snowballed and snowballed until I couldn't stand myself anymore. Yuck. The words that I read in my Bible didn't match up with my heart. I was tired and I was sick and I was sick of being tired. So I quit.

One problem ---- it might have been a good thing to talk about this monumental decision with my life partner, right? My husband really is a gift of God because he meets me in the places that I am the weakest . . . one of those being financial planning. Since I was a single mom before we met, I brought a lot of debt into our marriage. A lot of which we have paid off ---- a lot of which we haven't. Suddenly, we were going to be about $1000 short a month after factoring in all of the expenses we wouldn't have (daycare, lunches out, fancy work clothes, etc.). So, in January, we made the decision for me to become a medical transcriptionist. It's pretty much the only thing that I can do from the house with my education and skill set without having to invest a lot of time and money into a regular "business."

So, since January, I have been doing an intensive online course for my future (please?) career. I have had a lot of hiccups along the way. It's really hard to go from being a bossy office manager to being the person who is only in charge of changing the toilet paper roll. It's really hard to go from seeking the world's approval constantly and becoming satisfied with only God's approval. ONLY God's approval. I'm still not there yet. Sigh. I have taken long periods of time off while I have struggled with depression and being unsatisfied with a life that should be completely fulfilling on paper.

Due to my procrastination, I now have until the beginning of January to finish my course. This requires about five hours of typing a day, seven days a week. FUN! You would think I would be typing transcription right now, but I feel like I need to say all of this before I can get started today.

You see, my house may be halfway in-between being barren and still celebrating autumn. But, my heart is strongly decorated for Christmas. God has been so good to me. Not just in taking me from my past - from a difficult childhood, a ridiculous adolescence, and mistakes made in my 20's/30's - but taking me away from myself. For taking a poorly thought out decision to "quit" --- to where I am today, on the cusp of really getting to start life with my family. God has given me a changed heart and a personality transplant. He has protected me and my children this past year through my husband's hard work physically and financially. I know that what I have right now isn't from my own efforts. The life I have now and the way I feel about myself as a person are ONLY gifts of God's majestic grace.

I wish I could invite you to my house this Christmas. I wish I could bake you cookies and serve you some mulled cider or hot chocolate (with extra whipped cream, of course). Instead, all I have to offer is me. Me, typing at a computer - every day - until January. But, I also offer you a very changed Melinda. One who is a lot more humble, a lot more quiet, and a lot more reflective. I offer you a beautifully decked out heart that has more holly and ivy than you could possibly imagine. There are Christmas carols blaring out from every corridor and I am truly celebrating the birth of my Savior in a way that I perhaps never have before. Until you have stumbled and fallen, the gift of Christmas doesn't really mean a whole lot. When you can control your life on every level and can earn your own future, salvation isn't a necessity. This Christmas, I know I need God, I know I need Christ, I know I need grace, and I know I need salvation. I can only pray the same for all of you . . .

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

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