In a hurry, I pulled myself up into the attic to look for a book for a friend. In my rummaging, I came across a tote full of dance dresses from my youth. I could see the crushed green velvet dress peeking through the clear plastic, and I felt the draw to open the tote and feel the fabric. I took the dress and the book and made my way back into the house.

Later in the day, I walked into my bedroom and noticed the dress from the attic that I had quickly tossed on the corner of my bed. The dress looked dated, yet, lovely. I gently laid it out upon the comforter, pressing down the wrinkled sleeves, smoothing the embroidered bodice and fluffing the hem. I could almost picture the younger me wearing this dress: her heart beating fast underneath the sweetheart neckline as she watched the shaky hands of her date attempt to pin her corsage. Dad ended up having to pin it on.

I laid on my back next to the dress. As my hand fell beside me, it was almost as if I were holding hands with the younger me. So much has happened in the space that lives between then and now. I have had many moments since that have made my heart beat fast — some memories have held onto me and I to them, others have faded. However, I am keenly aware that each heartbeat at every age has allowed me to become who I am in this breath. We are a collection of ourselves: a beautiful mosaic of failures, attempts and successes. More than our past, we are still evolving. We are an unfinished work. History set itself in our design, but the now is living, taking along with it all pieces.

Who was this nervous girl in the crushed green velvet dress? Did she have a good time at the Christmas dance? I hardly recall. I am pretty sure that girl was more concerned with looking the part of a social teenager rather than being part of something greater. And I am thankful for the privilege of bringing her along on my evolving journey toward grace, contentment and pursuing Christ.

Here I am, now a wife and mother of three older children. Some of the years were as soft as this dress; others were more like wrinkles in the fabric only Jesus can soothe. Although some moments I question, I do not doubt the answer by the One who has always held me at every stage and age. (Even the ages my hold on God was loose.)

I lay on the bed next to my memory of the girl who twirled at a dance years ago while the smell of fresh pine from our Christmas tree fills the room. Smiling, I remind myself that here I am again celebrating. Time comes unswervingly; we just experience it through changing bodies. Although this Christmas I do not have Dad pinning a flower upon my dress, I do have the desire to twirl still. I do have the desire to do life with heart flutters and heartbreaks. Yes, I celebrate it all because I know time moves with or without me. To be present in the measurement of time gifted allows me to see God in the yesterdays of my life, in the heartbeats of today and in the hope of being nearer still to Him tomorrow.

Isn’t this what Christmas is about? Celebrating the opportunity to be nearer to God through the gift of Christ Jesus?

So, here I am, Lord. My life experiences have all led me to today. Am I more focused on looking the part or being part of something greater? What is my heart condition? Do I fully trust You? Will I live out my faith in all the flutters and heartbreaks, allowing You to lead the way? Do I choose to find something to celebrate each day, or do I focus more on what is wrong?

I went back into the attic and folded the Christmas dress neatly into the tote. As I was walking down the attic stairs, I caught a glimpse of my hand. It looks different than the girl’s hand that wore that dress. However, they are still her hands… my hands. My life. Before I went back into the house, I stepped into the emptiness of the garage and twirled. Memories danced with the present, and I thought once more of the space lived between then and now. I am so thankful for every step (and misstep). Most importantly, for the gift of Jesus: the real Christmas gift, an eternal gift.

May you be blessed this holiday season, trusting in the One who has been with you through all your stages and ages… even when your grip was loose.

SGLY, dear reader.

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. You can find her newly released books, “H.E.R.O. Faith” and “Bad Disciples” on Amazon. To submit feedback on SGLY, please contact news@amtrib. com.