Lights, gifts, songs, time off work…it must be the most wonderful time of the year, right? Well perhaps for most people, but not all. And perhaps even the people that say it is, are not really being honest. Let’s get real here, the holiday season, for many people can be the most difficult time of the year.
Instead of being able to celebrate the lights, maybe someone is struggling with personal darkness. Rather than thinking about gifts, perhaps families are grieving over the gift of a loved one they have lost. While many of us listen to holiday songs, for some individuals the only song they have in their head is the song of anxiety over the financial cost of the season. And although most of us enjoy some time off work, for some it means being alone with nothing to do.
I’m not trying to be the Grinch, but instead I want to do the opposite by challenging you to either bring hope to someone or to find hope as you struggle. However, to bring hope to someone or to find hope, you often have to start with reality. The reality is, the holiday season can be the most difficult time of the year for some people. So, what can we do?
If you find yourself in the position of enjoying the holidays and it’s the best time of the year, let me challenge you to make it better for someone else. Take a moment to think. Who do you know is struggling with finances? Perhaps send them some money anonymously. Do you know of someone who had a bereavement in their family? How about sending them a note to express your hurt and sadness for them. What about someone you know who struggles with illness or depression? Is there a way you can practically serve them? And what about the individual who you know will be on their own Christmas Day? Would it be possible to set another place at the table and invite them over? Great, for you it’s the most wonderful time of the year, now think about making it more wonderful for someone else.
But what if you are the person who is hurting, grieving, anxious, or not looking forward to the holiday season? Is there anything you can do? Trust me, I have been on both sides of this experience, and I believe there are things you can do. Yes, they won’t be easy, but can I encourage you to do them? Take some time out and count the blessings and the good things in your life. You might have a lot of hard things to cope with, but you still have good things, so celebrate those. Learn to be bold and swallow your pride at the same time. If you can do this then maybe you can reach out to a work colleague or friend, tell them how you are struggling and be bold enough to ask for help, or if you could hang out at some point during the holidays. One of the hardest yet best ways to cope is to not think about yourself. Instead, look for someone you know that is in a similar or worse position and love and serve them. Trust me, you will get more out of it than you know. Finally, it’s ok to not be ok. Life can stink at times and it can really hurt, especially during the holiday season, so don’t view yourself as different or unusual when you see everyone else happy. You never know, maybe their smile is a fake, and your admission of reality is what they need to see and hear.
But can I speak freely here for a moment? It actually is the most wonderful time of the year, but not because of lights, gifts, songs or time off work. It’s wonderful because of a wonderful story. A story where our Creator gets our struggle, gets our suffering, and gets our darkness. It’s the time of year that reminds us that we do need help and we can’t do it on our own. It’s a story that provides the beginning of change that can transform all of our shortfalls, our mess, our meaning and purpose into something more than the story we find ourselves in.
I personally struggle at this time of the year, because I know I am meant to be happy, but like many people I struggle with depression, fears, doubt, loneliness, anxiety, temptation, and overall with a story that doesn’t always go according to my plan. Wherever you find yourself this holiday season, I hope you will join me in remembering that our little individual story needs to be attached to a much bigger plan, and a much bigger story, that is only possible because of this time of year.
Written by David Clyde