Below our humble little Christmas tree still lies one lonely, carefully wrapped Christmas gift. The gift was thoughtfully chosen for my twenty three-year-old stepson. Yet this year, he decided not to come home for Christmas.
So, while I felt joy for other reasons this past Christmas, I also felt a feeling of emptiness over my stepson's absence. I missed his arm around my shoulder in church. I missed seeing him across the dinner table where he normally sat. And I missed the upbeat and playful excitement of watching his reaction to our opening presents.
Instead of opening the door to a warm hug, this year our only form of interaction was through text messages. On December 24, I texted my stepson the words, "Merry Christmas Son." He replied, "Merry Christmas." Even so, I felt very strongly that his desire to keep his distance was not because he was upset with me. Only ten days prior on my birthday, my stepson made a point of calling our home to wish me a joyous day and express his love for me.
So, keeping this in mind on Christmas Day, I prayed God that would stir my stepson's heart and possibly bring him home. However, the Lord stirred my heart instead. As my thoughts drifted back to another time and place, I remembered the day my stepson left our home to reunify with his biological mother for the first time.
My stepson had packed his few boxes of belongings and stacked them in the corner of his room. His mother and stepfather patiently waited in the driveway. Overwhelmed by the moment, my husband withdrew his emotions and kept silent in the distance. Soon, the time had come to say our "goodbyes." So, I entered my stepson's room where he sat on the edge of his bed, lonely and choked up with tears. Quietly, I approached him and sat by his side. At a loss for words, I simply placed upon his lap the going away gift I had purchased the week prior. He slowly opened the box to find a bible with his name inscribed on the front. With our shoulders slumped, we both remained silent and allowed the tears to flow from our eyes.
Finally, through those croaks and squeaks in a young boy's voice my stepson broke the silence and spoke the only words he would speak to me that day. Wiping his eyes and clearing his throat, my stepson said, "I have to go. I just can't bare the thought of disappointing you!"
Now, as I thought back to that time in my life, a feeling of bewilderment encompassed my heart. "Dear God, does my stepson think I am still the same judgmental person I was before?" God responded. "No." Then, the Lord spoke quietly to my heart. God said, "It isn't because your son believes you will judge him. He stays away because he respects you and loves you so much that he fears disappointing you!" I began to cry uncontrollably,. "Lord Jesus, that is exactly how I feel about You! If only I could only teach my stepson to fear You instead!"