If you have felt great loss this year, or if your health challenges are weighing heavily upon your spirit and life, the “cheer” that accompanies this season can be particularly difficult to be around. In fact, the great the cheer around you, the greater might be the pain that you feel. Much like rubbing salt into a deep wound.
Perhaps retreating seems like a good idea about now. You want to avoid further hurt, and even the faintest Christmas carol can stir up your pain to the point of you breaking down. But family commitments, work responsibilities, and other externals are powerful and important – and you can’t just curl up into a ball and wait out your extra pain until January.
What do you do?
Your medical team is a tremendous support for you, now. For those of us who live with chronic pain and illness – health challenges that can flare terribly during this Season – we sometimes forget that the “intangibles” matter, not just the rashes and other tangible manifestations of our illnesses. So, do not hesitate to talk about how you’re feeling with your doctor.
Also, understand that God is walking with you. Sense Him beside you, and sense that He wants to comfort you. Reach out for this comfort in prayer; you are no failure if you are hurting at a time that is supposed to be happy. You are uniquely, profoundly you, and God loves who you are now, in your present. Feel no guilt for sorrow, but let your tears wash and cleanse that sorrow and bring you through.
As we harbor pain in our hearts, it’s important and helpful to remember that others hurt, too. Perhaps your whole family is dealing with a significant loss, or perhaps a friend is. But even if they are not, there are many throughout the world who are. And, if you cannot actively participate in volunteer activities, if you cannot be where those hurting are, you can be a powerful prayer warrior this season, turning your supplications toward the heavens on behalf of those who might be too weak, too low, too hurting to do so for themselves.
Advent is a season of waiting, but it also calls for us to become new – new in the spirit, new in our lives. Our losses make this hard to do because we remember those who were and that which was. It’s hard, but not impossible, to forge new traditions and to fold our losses into that which we celebrate at this time. Consciously work to bring your loss into this Season in a way that remembers, but also acknowledges that the present is blending into a future that need not always be so crushing. Light a candle for your loved one, relate cherished stories, and move ahead, seeking a joy that is within you because of faith, God’s love, and unwavering hope.
Our losses will undoubtedly bring tears, especially at this time of year. But we can work with them and through them, for there is still much to be thankful for, much to rejoice in, and much more life in which to feel God’s love – sure, true, and wondrous love.
Blessings for the day,