This time of year– i.e., “the hap-happiest season of all”– is difficult for many people, including me. It has been since I was about fifteen or sixteen years old. That’s over half of my life spent wishing that Thanksgiving and Christmas and even New Years would just hurry up and be over already.
It’s not that I don’t love family. I do.
It’s not that I don’t love what the holidays represent. I do.
It’s not that I’m some bah-humbug Scrooge who is annoyed with it all. I’m not.
I think it mostly has to do with the dark. It’s so much, so suffocating. It’s waking up in blackness and having it already be dark when you leave work.
But it also has to do with the light– that is, the cheer, the general good tidings, the comfortable coziness that seems to accompany the holidays for most people. For some of us, that sense of feeling that things are supposed to be good sometimes highlights that they’re not.
I feel so grateful for how far I’ve come– to be honest, I’ve spent Thanksgivings and Christmases of the past sobbing on the floor or feeling dead and hopeless inside. And I haven’t had a weepy or hopeless Thanksgiving or Christmas in many years, for which I’m so glad. (Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, ERP!) But even still, I get this feeling that I’m not quite feeling what I’m supposed to be feeling, and I have this strong desire inside of me to just get it all behind me for another year.
I know I’m not the only one.
So, for those of you out there who are struggling this holiday season, I want you to know that I’m thinking of you. I’ve been there. I’ve spent this hopeful, joyous time feeling hopeless and joyless, and I know how stark the contrast is in these winter months, how much it hurts, how hard it can be for others to get it. I get it. 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.