My roommate is a Christmas fanatic– every year, she chooses one day after Thanksgiving where we pause everything else to put on some Christmas music, drink hot cocoa, and decorate our apartment. Every Christmas decoration in the entire apartment belongs to her. Well, time out, I guess we each paid half for our little four-foot tree.
Desiree has this entire Willow Tree nativity set, as seen below.
Can you picture her as a senior in high school, eagerly opening up each element of the scene? It makes me laugh– but in a good way! Des is the sweetest girl ever, and this is a great metaphor of each of us. Des is “steady eddie”– not that she doesn’t have her own issues to deal with– but she is strong and caring and clean and a good cook. And then there’s me, a tornado who is still learning how to take care of herself.
Christmas is an interesting time for me– to be honest, I am learning to enjoy it. Growing up, it was a very difficult time of the year for me. Picture Minnesota in the winter: it gets dark so early, there’s usually piles of snow, and the temperature is below freezing– sometimes dangerously below. It’s like a dream location for seasonal depression.
And then, with OCD stacked on top of it, pretty much everything about Christmas was a trigger: my mind would race with thoughts of whether I believed in God, and if He was real, if He had saved me.
There is an image of me that we still have somewhere at my parents’ house– me, hovering somewhere around 17-20 years old, with this look at the camera. I can remember exactly what I was thinking in it. I was looking at the camera and asking my future self, Are you okay yet? I hope you don’t feel this way still.
These days, I can answer my past self, I am better. I am healthier. And no, most days I do not feel that way.
Praise GOD! Thank You, Jesus, for cognitive-behavioral therapy.
So tonight I’m thinking about different kinds of folks– I know there are some– actually, MANY– who are like Des, yearly filled with holiday cheer, basking in the glow of the Christmas lights, huddled comfortably around the tree and the nativity scene. But there are others who spend their holidays the way I did– filled with doubt (laced with the tiniest bit of hope), depression, confusion, and sickness– and all while feeling that instead, they really ought to be happy.
If you are in the second camp, I hear you. I’ve been there. This prayer is for you:
Jesus, I celebrate You– I celebrate Your marvelous incarnation, the Word becoming flesh. Tonight, Lord, I lift up to You all those who are burdened with heavy, laboring hearts this season– whether from depression, anxiety, mental illness, or internal crisis. YOU ARE STRONG ENOUGH TO HOLD US ALL. Just as that first Christmas was the initiation of Your inexplicably great rescue plan, I pray that this Christmas will be the start of Your new rescue mission in the lives of these sufferers. You are Love. You are Truth. You are the mighty redeemer. I entrust my heart to You and ask that You would hold those for whom I’m praying– in a way that is felt. Amen.