Twinkling lights, wrapped gifts, merry songs, time off work – it must be the most wonderful time of the year, right? We wish this was the case for everyone, but for many, the holiday season can be a very difficult time.
Instead of enjoying the bright lights, maybe someone is struggling with personal darkness. Holidays can mean grieving the loss of a loved one, realizing added costs of the season are too high, or facing an empty home without the welcome distraction of work. I’m not trying to be the Grinch, but instead, I’m challenging you to either bring hope to someone who needs it or to find hope as you struggle.
Who do you know that’s dealing with financial issues? Perhaps send them some money anonymously. Do you know of someone who had a bereavement in their family? Sending a simple note to express your hurt and sadness for them can make a big difference. What about someone you know who struggles with illness or depression? Would a quick visit put a smile on their face? And what about the individual who you know will be alone on Christmas Day? Set another place at your table for them.
But what if you are the person who is hurting, grieving, anxious, or otherwise not looking forward to the holidays? I’ve personally been on both sides of this experience, and I believe there are things you can do to help yourself. Start with counting the blessings and the good things in your life. You might have a lot of hard things to cope with, but you may be surprised at how many good things you have worth celebrating. Reach out to a work colleague or friend and tell them how you are struggling. This requires being bold and swallowing your pride, but the payoff can massively outweigh the initial fear.
One of the hardest, yet best ways to cope is to not think about yourself. Instead, look for someone you know that is in a similar or worse position and do what you can to love and serve them. Trust me, you will get more out of it than you know. Finally, accept that it’s okay to not be okay, even around the holidays.
Let me speak freely for a moment. I personally struggle this time of the year because I know I am meant to be happy, but depression, fears, doubt, loneliness, anxiety, and temptation are still around. But I believe it actually is the most wonderful season. And it’s not because of lights, gifts, songs, or time off work, but because of the wonderful story that makes this time of year possible. It reminds us that we do need help and we can’t do it on our own. It’s a story that provides the beginning of change that can transform all of our shortfalls, our mess, our meaning and purpose into something more than the story we find ourselves in.
Wherever you find yourself this holiday season, I ask that you join me in remembering that our little, individual story needs to be attached to a much bigger plan, and that we have a part to play in helping others find hope.
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