when holidays hurt

broken ornamentMy husband’s family lost both mom and dad in the last year. Christmas will feel empty at times, like something is missing… because they are gone. There will be a longing in our hearts, tears in our eyes, and arms aching to hug someone who is not there.

My friends have not had any contact with their daughter for 10 years. They can not see or communicate with their grandchildren. They don’t know what they did. They also lost a younger son to cancer over five years ago. Family gatherings are not easy for them. Pain is always there.

Special friends are terminally ill. My mom is battling cancer. I am so very grateful she is with us this year – we did not dare to hope that a year ago, but treatments make celebrations difficult: energy is low, appetite is gone, fears of the future lurk in the corners of our mind.

My sister’s son lives far away. He is making life choices that are not the best. She worries about him and struggles with how to respond and relate to him – words chosen carefully, trying to show more love and less disapproval, but it is hard. Even a phone call takes more emotional energy than is available at times.

Lack of money stresses others. How to explain to the pleading eyes of a child that “Santa” will not bring that new toy? How to help a teenager understand that the new trendy phone is not in your budget, and they do not “need” what “all” their friends already have?

Even inner battles over how to celebrate can plague us. How many presents do we buy? How much do we spend on (more!) decorations? How many parties do we attend? How much food do we eat? … when we know others around the world have no clean water, or food, or shelter… How do we reconcile marketing pressures with message focus?

Tears and laughter are both part of our life-long journey. No one is exempt. A very wise man once said…  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

I have a burden on my heart to pray for those who hurt this year – that they will have someone near to share a shoulder to cry on and hold them in a hug that says that they are loved. Maybe in some cases, that someone will be me.

I also want to delight in the sweet and happy moments of this year and live them to the fullest – not let petty, insignificant things steal my joy or lose my focus… savor every decoration, Christmas carol, and special flavor, and store them as deposits in my soul… because one day I will need to draw from them… or share them with others.

Is there pain in your heart this year?

How do you help others when they are hurting?

9 thoughts on “when holidays hurt

  1. I got an email this morning from a woman I hardly know asking for the name of a counselor as she is separating from his husband and lonely. There is so much pain of different kinds during the holiday season, that sometimes you have to force yourself to look for the joy…but it is always there just as the Christ-child is there.

    • Yes, it is always there, but sometimes it feels like it is far away… I know you understand – that is probably why the woman sought you out… may you find special joy this Christmas too! I appreciate you.

  2. Thank you for your words. I’m sure there are those hurting more than myself. There always are. That doesn’t help the pain so much though. Our daughter is an alcoholic, as is her boyfriend, so that doesn’t help. We were (almost) all together for Christmas, so much fun, but now so far away, so lonely. When home, my husband always has a project and football. I always have things to clean up, wash, prepare, write, fix and then the same, again. I guess that’s sort of job security. It would be nice to go out, but there’s no reason. It’s harder to get up, get dressed, eat enough, but I try to force myself, smile and try to go on and serve the Lord, somehow. Thank you, again.

    • Thanks so much for your honest comment. I am so sorry for your pain. You are right… considering it on a relative scale compared to others does not eliminate the hurt. I pray that God will bring you special comfort and give you hope. HE is big enough to make changes that are impossible for us. You are loved… even if it doesn’t feel that way at times. May 2014 surprise you with God’s redeeming power.

      • Thank you so much! I would be so grateful if you could pray for another couple, Lord willing, close to our age with similar age children whom God would give us to be close friends with. Thank you, again.

  3. Terry, I often think of folks that are suffering when all is going so well and is joyful for me. I am grateful for these days and pray that I will remember them when the tough times strike. God is still there and that is our comfort even through the tears…in fact, I sense Him more through them, I believe! Thanks for the reminder. I’m just now getting to your blog entries for this month….. ;( Blessed New Year, 2014!!

    • …And a very blessed 2014 to you too! I hope we get some moments to catch up together next year! I so appreciate you and your tender heart towards God and people. Thanks so much for finding time to visit with me here! You are a great encourager!

  4. Pingback: Christmas Blog Tour 2013 | eQuipping for eMinistry

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