I’m a sentimental person, given to nostalgia and reminiscing. I like to look back on things and live in the space that my memory recreates. If I could, I’d crawl into that cozy little place in my heart where memory dwells and pull out the well-worn photo albums left over from events that feel like they happened a life time ago. If I could, I’d stay there for a long while with the people that those memories are made with, some still with me, some long gone, and chat. We’d sit by the fire and tell our stories, the tales of joy and adventure, fear and sadness. All of them, left to linger in the air like dust particles floating in beams of light.
I do this often, this looking back. It happens on holidays, anniversaries, birthdays. My kid’s birthdays especially. I find myself getting lost in the experience of their arrivals, the most sacred and unmatched of all of my memories.
My sweet girl only a few moments old. Photo Credit: Melissa Yocum Photography
I sit there on the night before another year has officially slipped through my heart like a needle and thread; each day a stitch. I let my mind wander back to what we were doing the night, the day, the hours before they came.
When I went into labor with Annabelle, we were at Chuck E Cheese, making a memory with Judah before we were no longer a family of three. With Judah, we were putting the finishing touches on his nursery and walking block after block with my parents and siblings, coaxing my body to contract. I let myself remember the feeling of labor, like an inner-tube of pain slipped round my middle, the triumph as I felt each push, the surprise at how loud a newborn can cry. The weightlessness of them in my arms, the love in my husband’s eyes, all of it, I remember all of it.
My sister caught this moment while I was in labor with Annabelle. Photo Credit: Melissa Yocum Photography
They’re good memories. They sum up life as I knew it. Life before babies came and grabbed what I knew with their chubby little fists, gummed it, and gave it back saturated with them. I wouldn’t want things to be different. I don’t want to go back to those days. That’s not why I reminisce. I look back because it always makes me appreciate where I am now. Like when you go camping. It’s fun while you’re gone but you don’t want to stay there. As great as a tent and sleeping bag are for a few nights, there’s nothing like your own bed, nothing like coming home, to the moment that you are in now.
I wonder if Mary ever did this? I wonder if, on the night before Jesus’ birthday, she slipped into his room and silently watched as his soft, sleeping breath was the accompaniment to dreams of redemption. I wonder if while she watched her sleeping boy she thought back to that night that he came. That night scented with hay and earth, when no doctor attended her, yet strangers came to visit. The night that her faith bore fruit of the sweetest kind and Heaven sang the most beautiful birth announcement. I wonder if she remembered the sound of His cry, the one that would rend the skies and repair the rift between God and man? I wonder if she remembered the weight of Him in her arms and the weight of the moment in history?
I wonder if she remembered life before Jesus?
Tonight, Christmas Eve marks that night, the last night on earth before Jesus. And I think we should allow ourselves to remember.
What was your life like before He joined it? Who were you? What are your memories of the “night before Jesus” in your life, the perpetual Christmas Eve that didn’t end till grace dawned like the sun on Christmas morning?
When we remember who we were before Jesus, where He has brought us from, all that he’s given us, all that He’s done, the gift of His grace becomes so much more precious. That reminiscing acts like polish on silver, shining it up so that your reflection is there in the treasure.
Or maybe, you are still living in that moment before Jesus. Maybe it truly is Christmas Eve in your life. I’m so grateful that you’re reading this! I need to tell you, have to tell you that the gift of grace, of unconditional love, of forgiveness, newness, restoration, and salvation has been waiting for you under the tree. The Bible says,
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans10:9 (NLV)
It’s as simple as tearing open some wrapping paper! It’s all there, in Jesus.
Today, on this last day of the Advent season, take time to look back on your life before Jesus. Travel back in your mind and heart to the way life was before Him, and then, come home to the moment you’re in now; the one that’s saturated with His grace, the one that feels like Christmas morning.