Every once in awhile a prayer rises within me and it’s so wholehearted I know the origin is deeper than self-will. It’s more like a groan of the Spirit, pulling at every sinew and blood vessel with an unexplained longing. Maybe that is what Jesus meant when He told us that anything we ask for in His name He will do for us (John 14:14). The prayer rises up like a bird beating against our chest, longing to be free. In such cases you know it is His initiative.
My prayer was this: to be set free from depression, envy and all the junk that can emotionally annihilate me at Christmastime. For love to pour out where in the past there’s been a lot of bitterness and blockage. I wanted to genuinely connect with my dad and step mom up in Santa Cruz, even if it was only over the phone. I wanted my mom in Laguna Beach and my brothers far and wide to know how amazing I think they are, and how invaluable their love is to me. I wanted to be fully present with my in-laws in Dallas. To feel comfortable just being myself and at the same time open to getting to know them on a deeper level.
By mid-December things began to line up. A good friend shared with me how it feels to be a step mom and constantly rejected by your husband’s children. I thought about how fruitless it is to hold one another hostage for being human and having messy family trees. It’s not like anyone fantasizes about being a “broken home” or a “second wife” or an older single person. It isn’t anyone’s first choice. But every day we have a choice whether or not to forgive one another. Every day we have a choice whether or not to receive the Love of our Creator and let Him re-create us in wholeness. It’s a wild ride if we choose to take it; freedom beckons on the other side.
This year, it seems the freedom ride chose me. Throughout the holidays I found more and more connection with the people in my family, both on my side and my husband’s. In the past the holidays have shrouded me in sadness, sense of lack, envy and unforgiveness. But this year, pretty much all I could feel was whole. It was like sitting in a circle of people and this golden light falling on everything, making it beautiful and soft and transcendent.
Which brings me to the Psalms of Ascents. While in Dallas I kept thinking about Psalm 133 which speaks of a kind of family connectedness, a spirit of unity which is truly God-breathed. I asked my father-in-law Allen about the wording. Why the oil dripping from Aaron’s beard? Allen, a pastor and Biblical scholar, broke it down for me this way:
What does oil signify? Anointing. Blessing. Consecration. Aaron’s role as high priest, the mediator between God and man. Psalm 133 is the image of the oil being so thick it is pouring off Aaron’s beard and his clothes. It’s a picture of the place where God’s blessing has saturated the atmosphere and people are in harmony with each other because of it.
Allen explained further that Psalm 133 is a Psalm of Ascent, part of a group of psalms about spiritual pilgrimage. Part of the journey of Ascent is coming into your identity which involves aligning with those you’re supposed to be connected with in the Lord.
I loved this interpretation because it confirmed my experience. Where there had been subtle but significant road blocks in my sense of unity with the people in my family, suddenly I was experiencing breakthrough. And it really did feel like an atmospheric change. Like finding myself in a place where the “oil” of reconciliation was raining down in abundance. What is so awesome about this is that without the “oil dripping down from Aaron’s beard,” I often miss the opportunity to truly connect. Potentially vital relationships stay surface-level. And without this God-breathed unity, I won’t know how to fulfill my destiny. I can’t quite make the ascent. Our traveling companions, so to speak, are all around us, but we need this heavenly anointing to release the truth.
Behold how good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to sit together in unity
It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes (Psalm 133:1-2)