II Corinthians 4:8, 9, and 17
Yes, the holidays are here. AGAIN! Lord, they roll around so fast. Must I face them yet again? (a prayer)
I know, my focus is in the wrong place. I am fully aware, I have no picture perfect family. The brokenness of us all is on full display from November 1st to January 1st. It has been this way for me since my freshman year in college. The year the death angel swept in under the cover of darkness on the other side of the world and ushered my Daddy into the Presence of Jesus. The opening of his casket let loose the forces of overwhelming grief in the lives of four teenagers and a young widow. Our lives scarred and the holidays we were in the midst of became “helluva days” instead of “holy days.” Each successive loss has only deepened this hole in our souls and God’s glory certainly drained out of these annual celebrations. It is more like going through the motions to do what is expected and try to put on the happy face and become exhausted keeping up the facade.
This year has been no exception. Prayers for strength slide down my cheeks as I decorate our home to proclaim, “I am good!” which is an absolute LIE!
Is there anyone out there who feels this way? After decades of my less than Academy award winning performance, I know for a fact I am NOT in this leaking boat alone. The truth is we holiday dreaders are many and we are probably closer to drowning than treading water! A rare few rise above the gut wrenching emotion of the empty places at the table and appear to walk on water. I envy them, (Yes, I am fully aware that is wrong!) and actually believe they may be faking it better than I. For deep love is displayed in deep grief.
I know the Word. I can quote the Scriptures about “laugh at death and weep at birth,” (Ecclesiastes 7:1) “we mourn not like those without hope,” (I Thessalonians 4:13), and “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…..” (Psalm 23)
Sorrow can wrap itself around your heart like a heavy, wet, blanket. Seasonal depression can be very real for we are bombarded with “It’s a Wonderful Life” and this can heighten the loneliness.
I have walked this road. I battle the desire to go into hibernation on November 1st and not wake up until January 2nd. The only thing that has helped me AT ALL is the realization God NEVER intended our lives to be this way…………loss, pain, sorrow, loneliness, and fear. This is why Jesus came………………..to “end the dark night of the soul and refill our soul holes” and bring hope and healing.
No More Night by David Phelps
As I intentionally turn my attention from my own empty places and hear the Savior remind me there is a day coming when all this separation will end, I begin to find the peace and joy that have been elusive for so long. (John 10:10) My personal gift to me this year is to turn my eyes toward the heavens and give thanks for the lives who have so profoundly enriched mine and agree with Job when he said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. (Job 2:10) My gift to each of you, who may happen upon this confession, is a prayer of comfort, strength, and for you to find joy in the small and insignificant for it is indeed, “holy, ordinary, amazing grace.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts). Kintsugi is the Japanese art form that takes broken pieces and uses gold or silver to repair the vessel. The gold and silver then SHINE and make the once broken vessel not only BEAUTIFUL but USEFUL! The Japanese believe that imperfections can be beautiful. The gold and silver actually show off the places once broken.
Without God’s gift of Jesus to the world, there would be no hope. The night Jesus came, He ended our eternal night and He gave us eternal life. He turns a broken and battered life into a work of pure grace. His glory once more shines through man. This is true restoration. There will be no “Happy Holidays” from my lips. There will be only Merry CHRISTmas!
Holiday dreader turned grateful treader,