“It is easy to get so caught up in the excitement and childlike feelings of Christmas that it becomes easy to ignore those around us who are either hurting or have an entirely different perspective of Christmas than we do.”
For the first time in thirty years we would spend the Christmas holiday apart. We had never imagined this; we had never even contemplated being separated during “the most wonderful time of the year.” God had been gracious to give my mother-in-law several more months than what the doctors had estimated, but now her health was declining rapidly. We knew the end was near. I wanted my husband to be able to spend as much time as possible with his mother, and between working a full-time job and pastoring a church, his time was very limited. As hard as it was and yet as necessary, we chose for him to spend Thanksgiving with his mom, dad, and brother.As our hearts are already filled with a giving spirit, may the Spirit lead us to look beyond our Christmas list and see those who are hurting and in real need. Click To Tweet
A few weeks later we found ourselves making the same important decision again for the Christmas holidays. One of the most emotionally painful days I have ever experienced was the Christmas Eve when I left my in-laws house so I could be home with our children. Saying good-bye to my husband and a forever good-bye to my mother-in-law made Christmas cheer very far from my mind. The pain of our separation became dim in comparison to the grief that filled our hearts as the Lord took my mother-in-law home on Christmas morning. I am so thankful that my husband was by her side and able to comfort his father and brother.
Recognize the Emotional Toll of Loss
Christmas 2012 changed my perspective in many areas. While I have always tried to be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, I am also one of those people who think, “If I’m happy, everyone should be happy,” and “If I’m sad, you should be sad too.” It is easy to get so caught up in the excitement and childlike feelings of Christmas that it becomes easy to ignore those around us who are either hurting or have an entirely different perspective of Christmas than we do. Just because the intercom system is playing “Jingle Bells” doesn’t mean everyone hearing it feels like humming along.
Experiencing holiday separation from my best friend, my husband, made me realize that many brave men and women who serve our country in the military make this sacrifice continually. There are others besides those in the armed forces, such as those in the hospital, in nursing homes, or in prison. I have realized that separation, either by death or by life’s circumstances, takes an emotional toll on many during this supposedly festive season.
Pray for People Who Experience Loss
Having a loved one die on Christmas Day has made me think outside of my comfortable Christmas box that is always tied with a beautiful bow. This painful experience has made me stop and say a prayer for all who have gone through similar grief, be it Christmas, Easter, or any other holiday that is typically surrounded by family and friends. The pain of losing a loved one is real on any day of the year, yet that loss seems intensified on the holidays.
Endeavor to Take Others’ Perspectives
For every person we meet, there is a story. Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean that all the stories surrounding us are merry and bright. The cashier working on the other side of the counter who seems to have quite the attitude may just be finishing up her second job to make ends meet so she can provide a Christmas for her children. The teller cashing your check may have just found out that his car repair will now take all of his Christmas savings and leave little money to spend on his wife and children. Your next-door neighbors who decide not to hang lights on their house like everyone else on the block may have just discovered marriage infidelity and they just do not feel like celebrating this year. Everyone has a story.
While you and I are celebrating the birth of our Savior and enjoying Christmas dramas and family meals, let’s do our best to remember the hundreds of people surrounding us who are not experiencing these joys of the season. I think we would do well to look for opportunities to visit the lonely, buy a single mother or father a nice Christmas present, send a card to a widow or widower, go visit someone in the hospital on Christmas day, or invite a bachelor or college student over for Christmas dinner. As our hearts are already filled with a giving spirit, may the Spirit lead us to look beyond our Christmas list and see those who are hurting and in real need.
I wonder if Jesus left footprints in the snow on Christmas Day, where would they lead? It seems to me that His steps always led to the hurting.