I write one every year, then send it to relatives and close friends. Done this for about 45 years.
It’s usually a time to update folks on our family—you know, the struggles and happy times, the losses and gains.
It’s fun for me to write, because I imagine myself in conversation with several of them. I can conjure up their reactions. There’s joy in it for them and for me. That’s pure imagination on my part, of course.
If you put out an hour’s worth of energy to write a Christmas letter and photocopy it 30 times, you know how this goes. Next, it goes inside a baby Jesus Christmas card with blessings.
Because of recent phone calls I’ve had with a sister 10 years younger than I, I’m considering another kind of letter.
Somehow in the conversation, I wound up sharing about the day I was saved, what that still means to me, and what comfort comes every day from knowing I belong to God, knowing He hears my prayers whether I “feel” good or not.
My sister heard me on a new level. Actually, that interaction probably turned out to be the most meaningful conversation she and I have ever had.
She loves family just as I do.
We came out of the same big family, but I was ten years older. That means she and I were from different worlds, different decades.
I guess I’d assumed she believed much as I did on things, probably because we were sisters and grew up in North Little Rock and Monticello, Arkansas. But I was the eldest girl, and she was the youngest girl of 12 children. It makes a difference.
We both lived at the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home in Monticello, too. But we did not have the same experiences. Of course we didn’t. How could we? I was ten years older. I was a teen when I went there; she was four or five. Different house-parents, different groups, different schools, different friends.
Sisters. Brothers. We usually grow up with them. We think we know them better than most people. We make assumptions. Sometimes, false assumptions.
I asked a couple of questions beyond her struggle with walking. Two-way honesty, the only way, in my thinking. But you know, some people are supersensitive and can’t handle much honesty. Luckily, she could, I could.
As a result, today I know what’s up with her. She knows what’s up with me. No one died from that much honesty.
I took a minor risk, pushing on with her, letting her know that I believed God could help her with her problems, but she’d have to let go of control and let God be in the driver’s seat.
If you grew up with Bland as your last name, you have a rebellious part. It helped you survive. Hers kicked in.
You could hear it in her tone.
I told her I’d pray for her, but I leaned toward her needing to do some praying, too. Her first prayer might need to be: “Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me. I want you to become Lord of my life. I need you.”
On I trudged into deeper waters. “If you can’t pray that prayer, then all the prayers you pray for your children and children’s children will not be heard. First, you have to belong to Jesus. (He’s the bridge between God and us.) Once you belong to Jesus and you pray according to His will, things will change for the better.”
“I know, I know. I know the Bible.”
I backed up. You can’t take people where they do not wish to go. And hammering like a woodpecker at someone with a rebellious tone won’t help a lick.
Two days later, she lay in the hospital. I asked about how she was with God. She said, “I’m there, Patricia! I really am. I’m good with God now.”
“Okay, then it’s all going to be okay.”
“I know, I know.” We shifted our talk another direction.
Two more days pass. She gets wound care and goes to live with a daughter.
Now, I’m wondering about others I’ve just assumed are living God-led lives. I wonder when they gave their hearts and lives to Jesus.
My sister and I shared as never before about our spiritual sides. It was intimate. Our relationship will never be the same. It will be deeper.
Anytime we share about who Jesus is to us personally, I think we walk into vulnerable but intimate territories. It can deepen a relationship.
No telling how my Christmas letter will read, but it won’t be the same-o, same-o.
God bless you,