For some, holidays are a feast. For others, holidays are a famine.
For many, holidays are a time of celebration, of fullness, abundance. We look forward in expectation to time spent with family, eating, sharing, laughing. Decorations come bounding out of storage, holiday music once again begins to flow through stores and homes, echoing the warmth and joy of the season. Life feels full with rich traditions and rituals that leave us both exhausted and delighted.
There are many, though, who struggle to feel the exuberance of holiday cheer. The holidays serve as a reminder of the loneliness, sadness, brokenness that leaves them feeling anything but joyful. Everyone else’s joy exacerbates the hollowness of pain within. Everyone else’s abundance serves to magnify their lack of. Scarcity.
I know. I remember a time when this time of year revealed a parched desolation in my soul. These times ached. On ordinary days, I could manage, pretend. My days and my aloneness could pass by inconspicuously. Uncelebrated. Unnoticed. I could relegate my pain to the quiet, shadowed parts of my heart and mind. I could almost forget.
But these days that should be so full, so plentiful, so abundant, for many feel nothing less than horrific.
We all have had our struggles. Many of us have had seasons where the holidays felt more life a famine than a feast. Most know of someone who is struggling, who is quietly holding their breath for the festivities to pass, for the pain to dull.
What can we do in our seasons of abundance to be the hands and feet of compassion to those who are broken, lonely, exhausted, or in need?
Look around you.
Whether you are at the grocery store, whether you are in your neighborhood, whether you are at church, at work, or at the gym. Notice. Listen. Listen to the silence. Listen to what’s not being said. Look for the lonely. Look for the struggling.
There is a hurting world out there —single moms who are barely hanging on, wondering where they will come up with the money for the holiday meal, wondering how they will put one exhausted foot in front of the other. There is the elderly man who has no family left on earth with whom to share the holidays, who wonders why he is still here, who longs to be freed from this lonely earth to get to his eternal home once and for all. There’s the twenty-something, who has left his home and his small town to pursue big dreams in a big city, and who longs for someone, somewhere to see him, notice him, welcome him into their heart and home for a simple meal.
They need our love. They need us to step out of our busyness and notice. Just notice.
We move in confined, ordered steps. We have little margin, little white space. Little of ourselves left over to give, it would seem. We tend to see only checklists and timelines, schedules and agendas.
Look up. Look out. Reach out. Set aside the agendas that chain us to our ritualized seclusion. Step outside of the tasks and reach out. Start a conversation that takes a little bit longer. Bring by a meal that warms the heart as well as the body. Take the extra moment to smile at the passerby, the checkout clerk, the neighbor next door. Be willing to step into someone’s story, their world, perhaps their pain. Bless them. Yes, bless them.
There are so many who are in need. Could we be willing to open ourselves, our hearts, our homes, our perfect holidays, our perfect memories, and take a chance to welcome someone in? Could we create connection with the forgotten, the marginalized, the overlooked? Could we celebrate together the compassion of humanity that binds us together, that makes us more similar than different, that remembers we’re all in this thing together?
Is this time of year a time of scarcity, loneliness, or pain for you? Don’t isolate. Seek the support, the love, the community of compassion and hope God has for you. He loves you. He doesn’t mean for you to walk alone. Don’t give up hope. Hold on.
Is this time of year a time of abundance? If so, give thanks. Treasure the blessings. Cherish the hope. Remember the miracles God has done on your behalf. Be the miracle for someone else.
God has blessed us to be a blessing to someone else. God intends for us to bring His healing to a world that desperately needs to be healed. That longs to be loved. That wants to be whole, too.
Look around. Reach out. Welcome in.
We will be the ones who are blessed in the end!
The secret is out – my new book, Peace for a Lifetime, is coming in March, 2016! I’m so excited to share with everyone personal stories, tools and practical life steps that will help people discover and experience peace in every area of their lives. Yet I cannot do this alone. There comes a time in every project when words need the collective nurturing and support of community, and this is that time.
Launch team applications will open SOON!!!
I’d love to have as much support as possible. Keep your eyes open for the application later this week and JOIN OUR TEAM!!!