I kept tearing up at Christmastime. We have this old Point of Grace CD in the vehicle I drove around when I was at home, and on our foggy, soggy Christmas Eve, I was driving and attempting to get in the Christmas mood. So I clicked number 1 on the CD changer, played through some of my favourite Christmas carols on the CD, and searched through until I found this song. It played loudly (because I like my music loud), and I listened to it with ears which heard, but had never quite listened. And then, words began to hit me. "God, let us be a friend to the hurting." "Oh Emmanuel, God with us; with a light to break the darkness; that we may show your hope to the world, Emmanuel, be God in us." "She said, 'This was the time of year I had my family near, but they've all gone and I have been so lonely.'" "A girl of 60 years would laugh and play; as we watched her dance, our eyes were full of tears." "Oh Emmanuel, God with us."
The song keeps making me cry. Even now, my eyes are betraying me by leaking out some tears.
On Christmas day, I told my mom I kept crying over this song, as I drove us back from an evening filled with laughter and card competition. I played it for her, and we both sang along - she harmonized, as she always does, and I tried to see the road while tears filled my eyes.
And then I told her: I'm scared of being the old woman in that song.
I'm scared of being the person from Michigan, who was dead but whose body wasn't found for five years, because everyone just assumed she was fine. I'm scared of being a 60 year old woman, all alone on Christmas day. I'm scared of forever being the sister without a boyfriend to visit on Christmas Day. I'm petrified I'll push everyone away so far, no one will want to get close to this heart, for fear it could bite you, or something like that.
I'm scared no one will understand why I like semi colons and laundromats, I'm scared no one will want to join me on adventures, I'm scared I will forever have a picnic basket full of food for one. I'm scared I'll have to keep searching for my worth in likes and retweets and hearts on an Instagram photo.
I'm scared I'm bench pressing people away from me. I say I'm building resiliency in reps, but really, I'm just scared of someone getting too close to see the damages of my heart. You can get close, I say, as I pull the weights towards my chest - but I can push you away just as easily. And I will, because I've learned bench pressing is the key to building strength.
I'm scared no one could love a girl with daddy issues. Or a girl who enjoys knitting and dancing like a fool, old jazz and tea with a lot of sugar in it, eating and Coca Cola, a girl who is content reading a book and carries a few extra pounds of love here and there. I'm scared no one wants to be with a girl who is independent, who likes having solo time but craves someone to ground her.
I'm so petrified of all this, it's paralyzing.
And I think I keep crying because when I get in this fearful place - when I am so scared of being alone, I stop contributing to my communities all together - there is a quiet whisper, which somehow speaks louder than the lies which scream, "You will be forever alone."
The whisper sneaks in, after all the fires and earthquakes and tornados the lies bring. It quietly sits, anticipating the right moment to say: Emmanuel, God with us.
"And He shall be called Emmanuel, which means God with us."
With us. Neck deep in the muddy waters we're trudging through. With us. Walking through the forest when we have to go on the road less travelled. With us. When we are screaming and crying because we don't understand, or when our hearts are sad because the news never gets better, it stays steady with disappointment. With us - in the arena, fighting for truth and vulnerability and authenticity.
With us, when we're starting to believe the lies who scream of us, being forever alone.
Emmanuel, God with us - I hope this whisper never leaves my heart. Because it reiterates the truth of never alone. Because it screams hope to me, and it screams I am worthy - a great God is with me, even when I am unlovable and keeping Him at an arms length away, bench pressing him away with everyone else.
And this is the whisper carrying me through those the fears.
Oh Emmanuel, God with us.