So, how many times recently have you been greeted with "Happy Holidays" -- or more appropriately -- "Merry Christmas?" The words "happy" and "merry" are always directly tied to this season, and for most people there's good reason for it. With all the fun get-togethers, family reunions, special meals, TV specials, gift giving... there's certainly lots to make you smile. But as you know, and as our Crossroads telephone prayer line always reveals at this time of year, Christmas isn't always so "happy" and "merry" for some people, including some of you reading this right now. Here are a couple of comments from our TV viewers of 100 Huntley Street.
"This is one of the most difficult times of year for me. I can feel the pain all over again." - Terry
And some further honest words came from this person, who said...
"Everybody keeps moving along through life, they all seem so happy, but I am carrying this pain around on the inside and I can't really fake being happy on the outside..." - Rob
The pain that one carries throughout the year can seem even worse at Christmas time. There are some very genuine feelings you can't deny during the holidays, especially when the rest of the year has included a job loss, a divorce, or even the death of a loved one. All of these events bring about a grieving process, and they're only magnified by the reality that everyone around you is having such a good time...or at least appearing to.
The issue that brings conflict into our hearts is the EXPECTATION of happiness from others... it's the way we're supposed to feel this time of year. And when we're always hearing the words "happy holidays" and "merry Christmas" and we're NOT happy or merry, the pain in our lives bubbles up to the surface, accentuated by all those festivities around us. Can I just offer a few practical ideas as we deal with this concern?
1. Start Fresh - maybe this year you could celebrate the holidays a little differently...even start a new tradition, as some of the old ones may be connected with painful memories, especially when dealing with divorce or bereavement.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others as your measure of happiness - the Norman Rockwell imagery of the big happy family gathered around a golden turkey with everyone smiling is not always reality...and pretty tough to compare with. Besides, the "Jones's" probably have issues too. Let your measuring stick be the Cross of Jesus, through which He sees you as His beloved child.
3. Take inventory of your emotions and be honest with yourself - don't just try to fake your way through this season. Talk to and pray with a trusted friend, counselor or pastor about what you're really going through ... especially if it's grief or loss. Don't deny those feelings. Express them in a healthy fashion.
4. Take the opportunity to offer forgiveness to someone - Perhaps it's the chains that accompany unforgiveness that has you weighed down this season. Ask the Lord for His strength to enable you to release forgiveness to that one... which, in turn, releases you to a new joy and freedom.
5. Above all, know that God is with you! - One of the names of Jesus from the Christmas story is Immanuel, God with us. Even if you find yourself alone, with no one to talk to, God is there... and He loves you and longs to spend time with you, if you'll simply invite Him.
And you have friends here too who are always glad to hear from you and pray with you, Our 24/7 prayer line number is 1-866-273-4444. Or submit an online prayer request.
May God's presence and peace surround you today and enable you to have a blessed Christmas!