And the delicate ring of this Christmas bell filled the frigid space where the winter air permeated the interior of our car.
As my youngest uninhibitedly sang Christmas carols driving home from school, the very breath of his holiday tunes lingered in the wintry temperature, now wrestling with the cars forceful heating system.
He smiled with his sweet, gentle and amused eyes as he shared with me the traditional story behind the bell around his neck. "Mrs. Pearson gave me this, Mom," he said with great enthusiasm, as he proceeded to ring it harder just in case I hadn't heard it the countless times before.
I was sweetly amused at the simple joy he was experiencing with this gold bell. A bell, which in return, brought him spontaneous laughter. Unreserved happiness. Innocent pleasure.
But strangely for a moment, as if turning mute on the sound system to life, the car fell silent. The singing, the ringing, the sounds of Christmas came to an abrupt pause as Jesse intensively white knuckled the bell in the right palm of his ten year old hand. Still shaking the bell with great vigor and passion, the sound of the bell fell completely mute. Silent.
That's precisely when he cut through the unexpected and awkward silence- and said it.
The secret to life, that is.
"Mom," he insightfully shared, "If I hold on too tight to this bell, it doesn't ring. I need to let go for it to fulfill its purpose."
Every letter of those few wise words spoken through this child seemed to linger in the now luke-warm air of the car. As Jesse released the bell from the grips of his little hand, he gently let-go, one finger at a time, and delightfully continued to ring the bell.
Let go. huh.
It's in the letting-go we find purpose, isn't it? We find identity. We find meaning. We find freedom. We find life.
The purpose of that small and simple Christmas bell draped around the soft skin of my Jesse's neck was to bring joy to a childs heart. Yet when clung too tightly, its sole purpose was obsolete. Absent.
But how human nature is still strangely drawn and naively tempted to cling. To cling too tight to him or her. To cling too tight to past mistakes, to regret, to shame, to unforgiveness, to assumptions, to guilt, to control, to finances, to insecurities, to pride, to resentments, to hatred, to lies.
Yep, it's in the who I'm clinging to during times of insecurity is where I'll find my security. And how often, I ashamedly find my white knuckled grip wrapped around too tightly a false security. A delusional hope. A mirage of happiness. A counterfeit truth.
All the while, shaking the bell of life with passionate vigor and relentless zeal, yet not fulfilling God's hand knit purpose and calling; simply due to the destructive clinging that's diminishing the ringing.
I suppose that's why Jesus Himself said "If you cling to your life, you will lose it. And if you let-it-go, you will find it."
As the author of life, Jesus has given invaluable direction for the meaning of life; letting-go so that He Alone can fulfill and expose the very purpose hand designed for each and every life; one which supersedes the greatest imagination.
And yet, letting go is no simple feat. No indeed.
It wasn't until I was broken open did I come to a place of desiring that which I was unaware was in the waiting room of life. Once the fingers were willing to be released, one by one, of my white knuckled clenched grip, could I experience the unimaginable gift of purpose. Which, in return, ushered in the very presence of rest. A rest where exhaustion and heavy negative emotions were no longer dictating that of my reality; but where surrender, reverence, trust and an unfathomable experience of the love of God, formed the way I now operated and shaped my life.
I have found it to be undoubtedly true, that Jesus is indeed the cure for the insecure. And the more I let-go of that which depletes me of the very purpose of my existence, the more I find my life.
May the Christmas bell of the heart, this season and beyond, refuse to cling; so that it can continue to ring. Ring, for the One in which the heart will sing.
Merry Christmas, joy