The holiday season should be marked with joy, the warmth of relationships, and special times with those close to us. That’s certainly what we expect and hope for. Some of you will experience much of this ideal. For others, it is far from reality. What do we do when our loved ones are far away or we are overwhelmed with the pressures of life or we are carrying sadness that doesn’t disappear just because the calendar says December?
While there are no easy answers, there are some truths that I’ve found meaningful for myself.
Take Time: In the midst of the busyness or sadness or loneliness, would you take time to step aside and join Mary in “pondering all these things”? Intentionally walk a little slower. Intentionally savor the gift of Jesus who walks with us. I’m not very good at this myself, but one of my long-term prayers has been “Teach me to live a quiet, unhurried, relational life.” It’s something that I’ll keep praying until it’s fully a reality in my unruly soul. Instead of pushing on by yourself, step aside and open your heart to the reality of Christ.
Embrace Longing: Recognize that longings are a gift reminding us that there are better and richer and deeper things than what we are experiencing today. Turn the longings of your heart into prayers that you lift to the Father. If you long for peace, ask for it for yourself and the people that God has called you to serve. If you long for relationship, ask that he would give you friends and that He would be your Friend. Recognize that it is less broken to long for what should be than to be satisfied with lesser things or simply not to long at all.
Delight in Jesus: The snow may not be falling outside our windows this month. Our tables may be sadly empty. Christmas may be marked with pain and sadness and loneliness. Yet we do have a reason for a persistent, fierce hope. Christ has become flesh and makes his home with us. Come to the manger with all that you are and all that you have been carrying. In that place, speak to the Incarnate Son about the deep desires of your heart. Ask Him to carry the burdens that you cannot carry. And then rest in that place as you see the Hope of the Ages in the face of the Son.
Holy Jesus, there are burdens that we carry. There are also fears that we do not speak. We come to you.
There are unfilled desires that you have given. There are also pursuits and ambitions that are not from you. We come to you.
You have placed in our hearts a love for the lost, but that love often grows dim, and even when it burns, that love itself does not give us life. We come to you.
Fill our hearts until the darkness becomes light. Fill our lives till our brokenness gives way to life. Fill this world until those you have loved come to know your love.
We come to you and we eagerly wait for your final coming.
Written by: E.M.