Are you in the middle of a dark November crisis?
The dreaded holidays
The winter gatherings creep toward loneliness, greed, accusation…and we tend to feel unable, inferior, invisible.
For so many, the holidays remind of bad memories, unmet expectations, disappointments.
With the early nights and dreary days come the work parties, family dinners, church potlucks, and all those social obligations.
I’ve never been successful to paste on a smile and fake it.
I’d like to hibernate until March.
My heart feel heavy within me. I am weighed down with the loss of loved ones, the loss of opportunities, the shifting of hopes and dreams.
As many people eagerly await the birth Jesus, it’s hard for me to lift up my heart.
As many plan to celebrate and sing with joy, I often find the days gray and my tongue unable to rejoice.
God knows the emptiness I sometimes feel. God knows the feelings of abandonment, anger, loneliness, and depression I feel. God knows me from the depths of my heart, and God sits with me as I learn to be whole.
I can be assured of God’s love and compassion. He can handle my darkest fears. I can rail at him and ask, “Why?!” I don’t have to hide my tears or sad face from him.
We don’t have to continue any traditions that leave us broke or in debt, stressed out, overwhelmed, tired.
A simple holiday can be a better holiday.
There really are no obligations. You can say no. You don’t have to explain or justify.
I don’t attend many holiday events. I don’t really like parties. My husband is organizing a greening of our church potluck/Friendsgiving for Advent. I’m planning a longest night service.
We stopped sending cards. They seem impersonal and wasteful in this age of social media.
We have always lived too far away to visit my parents or his sisters.
We stopped gift-giving with adults and extended family. We barely have a relationship beyond our immediate family and the gifts were not heartfelt, but just duty.
We minimize decorating.
We streamline celebration meals with our little family. Pinterest perfection is not the goal. We cook and eat what we like!
We limit presents to our kids and prefer experiences over stuff.
Then there’s sometimes still disappointment. The dreary days trudge on towards spring and warmth that seems so far away.
There is hope in the dark.
Reach out to others.
You may be someone’s lifeline during these dark days of winter.
Light a candle.
I will light candles this Christmas;
Candles of joy despite all sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all the year long.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart.
Next time you pass the peace in your church, try passing the hope instead:
“We wouldn’t be the same without you. Hope be with you.”
And the response: “And also with you.”
Let hope burn bright.
Christmas is for the abused & oppressed. Christmas was an act of resistance against all that is evil.
“Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease.”
Though you may be wrapping gifts, planning special meals, and spending time with family and friends, I hope you will also take time to allow the Advent darkness to do its work as well.Richard Rohr