This time of year is difficult for many because of the pain of loss, among other things. For me, I feel most sharply the loss of my father. Tied so tightly to this grief is a deep guilt. You see, the last few years of my father’s life, I was very busy. I had three small children, a husband, a job, and lots of distractions. And I thought I had more time than I really had. I had no idea my father would die suddenly from a heart attack with no warning, no goodbyes.
All I can think now is how our last contact had been a brief text message and nothing more. I feel the weight of my promise to fly him down to Florida that I never fulfilled. All I wish for is another chance to tell him one more time that I love him, and that I’m sorry I’m not a better daughter.
When I share my grief and guilt, everyone wants to tell me that it’s not my fault. I was busy, and it’s understood. But I don’t want a pass. I don’t want to excuse what I know to be a lack of other-centeredness.
This is where Gospel message is needed. I messed up. I don’t need to pretend it didn’t happen. I don’t need to excuse it. I just come to the one who paid for my mistake. When I come to God, He doesn’t minimize what I’ve done–He takes it in all its hideous, selfishness and He lays it on the sacrificial lamb to be paid for in full. And then I am forgiven. My weight is removed not because I am not guilty, but because He took my guilt for me.
So I still mourn, but I also accept the grace being offered. And this Christmas, as we all bear the weight of our sin and the sin of others, we can choose grace also. Not because the actions didn’t matter but because His sacrifice is so able to pay for it all.