Because For Some the Holidays Feel More Like a Famine Than a Feast

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.

 

Reach out.

 

 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.

 

Welcome in.

 

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!

 

Blessings, 

Lisa

 

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!!!

22 Comments

  1. Yes, lament is never far from the scene when there’s a party going on. Whether we choose to open the door and admit its presence or just turn up the music and try to ignore it, God stands ready to help us celebrate even in the face of great sadness. So thankful for the Word of God which shows us the way — and your words have been an abundant blessing in this as well!

  2. Lisa, I so agree with these words! There are so many who feel lose at this holiday time. I remember the first few years after my mother died, each holiday was filled with tears and sadness. There are still little moments that catch me off guard and my eyes well up and my throat swallows hard. It is hard! Your words of encouragement are good. When we are in a place of feasting… look for those who are starving! Great title that you came up with! Good job and great words of encouragement! Thank you! (Stopping by from #raralinkup)

    • lisamurray

      November 25, 2015 at 7:39 AM

      Rachel,
      Thank you for sharing your story! Not everyone is celebrating the holidays. For many, it is a struggle just to make it through. What an opportunity to see, to reach out, to be the hands and feet of Christ! Blessings!

  3. Lisa, what a practical, beautiful post. God has been challenging me to practice stillness in the midst of this busy season, rather than getting so wrapped up in the doing that I miss His presence by simply being. You’ve taken this one step further. I am so encouraged by your suggestions to look around, see those who are hurting and reach out to them. This is one of the best gifts we can give to those God places on our paths.

    I’m your neighbor over at Holly Barrett’s site. 🙂

    • lisamurray

      November 25, 2015 at 7:41 AM

      Jeanne,
      So glad to have you here today! Yes, stillness is good. But to see someone else’s need, their pain. To simply offer a word of kindness, a prayer, that’s even better! Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  4. Lisa, a great reminder of how we need to keep our eyes and hearts open to the needy, especially during the holidays. People want to be noticed and loved and as God’s children it’s our duty to be His eyes and ears here on earth. Thank you for sharing these thoughtful words.

  5. Lisa, thank you for this reminder to slow down, look around and reach out this holiday season. It’s amazing what simply exchanging a smile with someone at the grocery store can do to lift a person’s spirits, and it costs not a thing! I’m glad to be your neighbor at Holley’s today …

  6. This is just the best reminder…Thank you for your encouragement to Look around, Reach out, and Welcome in. Needed this today! Thanks Lisa!

  7. This may sound ironic, but I have found this so much easier to do with strangers than with family. When we lived overseas, we had as many as 50 people in our home on the holidays. It started with unmarried people, and grew to “anyone who had nothing else to do.” Back in the US, we have frequently invited perfect strangers (the cashier at the gas station, the man on the train) for Thanksgiving. At the same time, there are close family members who are lonely, and while I have extended the invitation numerous times to join us on the holidays, we live hundreds of miles apart and they usually decline. I find myself in that awkward place of trying to be positive and open and share what we are doing, and still respect and be sensitive to the fact that things are very different for them. It is often an intricate balancing act. Extra phone calls, cards, and attention during this time of year is so important, but it is also difficult with the many extra time constraints. It takes constant vigilance (for me, anyway!) to remember to make it about the people, not the “must do’s.” Your article, Lisa, is a poignant reminder as we get ready to head into this season to slow down and focus what matters. #Faithand Fellowship

    • lisamurray

      November 30, 2015 at 6:53 AM

      You are so right, Wendy! Loving family and friends can be such a delicate balancing act. Blessings to you!

  8. Yes…we are called to reach out and be an image of Christ to those we come in contact with. Oh, that we would contact others, others in need of a meal, in need of a touch, in need of Christ. Your three ‘commands’ are good ones to remember as we walk in Him.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

  9. Indeed, Lisa, we are blessed to be a blessing. We are called to welcome freely in order to expend the grace we have been given. Holidays are hard for me, often because of my own inability to set aside expectations. I am learning. thank the Lord, to let Him lead me in the loving and let Him teach me the power of grace with each step so that I can embrace the opportunity that we have in the gathering. This is a chance to share His love with others and when we do it as He would, when we follow the path of love, we are filled with a peace that passes all understanding.
    🙂 Blessings!
    Dawn

  10. I wrote a post that’s somewhat similar to yours, Lisa, but you take it to a whole higher and better level here, my friend. I love what you are encouraging us to do–do for others when we feel discouraged by life. It’s an immediate blessing to give when we feel our lives are lacking. Great words, my friend!

    • lisamurray

      November 30, 2015 at 6:56 AM

      Thank you for your kind words, Beth! Yes, it is an immediate blessing to give when we feel our lives are lacking. Have a blessed day!

  11. Beautiful encouragement to look around and reach out! Love this, Lisa! Thanks for linking with Mommy Moments at http://www.micahmaddox.com/mommy-moments-link-up-10/

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