Acknowledge the Hard
The holidays can shine a spotlight on loneliness, which can feel overwhelming. Maybe this is your first time away from your home, maybe it is the first holiday celebration without a loved one, perhaps you’re the only single person in your family, or you feel invisible in your community, or a myriad of other reasons you find yourself alone this holiday season. It can be easy to put on a mask, pretend we are doing alright, and smile through the pain. Whatever way you find yourself entering this holiday season, could I encourage you to take a moment to acknowledge the hard? It is okay to say that this holiday season is not what you would like it to be.
While you may feel isolated and alone, there is someone who wants to hear your cries, and who sees you when no one else does. Someone who does not require you to be “put together” when you reach out to him. After you acknowledge the hard, reach out to the Lord. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus encourages those who are weary and heavy laden (burdened), and he promises rest. In the Psalms, we see many examples of believers crying out to the Lord (Psalm 25, Psalm 34, Psalm 42, Psalm 145, Psalm 102). Acknowledge the hard, and bring your frustrations, hurt, sadness, and anger to the Lord. He is ready and capable to take it.
Give Yourself Grace
You’ve acknowledged the hard and brought it to the Lord, so you should be all better now, right? If only life were that simple!
Give yourself grace; you are human, and you have emotions. You may feel happy during the holidays and then suddenly, out of the blue, be hit with sadness or a deep sense of loneliness. That is okay. The holidays can bring about a lot of emotions, so give yourself some space this season to hold both the joyful and the sad. They can co-exist together. The season may also not end up being as bad as you think or as wonderful as you would like. That is okay as well. There is no need to live up to the hype (and, at times, charades) of this season. Take it at your own pace and give yourself grace.
Take Time to Process
Sometimes, we compensate for our loneliness by filling our days with different activities. We do this to avoid facing the reality of the turmoil in our hearts. This coping strategy can be dangerous as we may be able to cover up how we feel, but rest assured, those feelings will spill out in one way or another. This season, take time to process. If you like to journal, journal, but if journaling is not your thing, go for a walk or reach out to a trusted friend and ask them if you can process it together.
Questions to help you process:
- How am I feeling right now?
- What are the thoughts that are occupying my mind today?
- What do I believe about myself?
- What is the situation that I am in?
- What are some truths from the Bible that I can hold to today?
- Keep up with the routines you already have in your home. A consistent routine can be very beneficial for your overall health.
- If you are returning to a place that is not your community, schedule Facetimes/Zoom calls/phone calls. Even though virtual connection is not the same as being physically present, it can help.
Do the Next Thing
If you anticipate the holidays being incredibly lonely or hard, are there things you can plan for? Is there a place where you can volunteer? Is there someone that you need to reach out to? Is your town offering a holiday event that you can attend? Is there a church nearby with a Christmas service you can visit?
When loneliness sets in, looking beyond that heavy veil can be hard. We tend to look inward and forget there are other people that we can reach out to not just for encouragement for ourselves but so that we can encourage them. So what is the next thing you need to do?
In the busyness of this season and with the end of the year fast approaching, it is easy to forget that the whole purpose of Christmas is the coming of Jesus. In the book of Isaiah, we see that Jesus was prophesied to come and was given a particular name, Emmanuel, which means God with us (Isaiah 7:14).
God with us
Fast-forward to the book of Matthew, and we find the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, recorded (Matthew 1:23). God came to be with his people. He sent his Son so that it would be possible for us to have a relationship with him. What makes Christmas so special is that it is a time when we celebrate the arrival of Jesus, Emmanuel - God with us. This holiday season, even if you are not with your people or feel dreadfully alone, remember, dear reader, if you know this Emmanuel, this Jesus, you are not truly alone. Spend time reflecting on the following passages that recount the birth of Emmanuel:
- Isaiah 7: 14
- Isaiah 9:2-7
- Matthew 1 and 2
- Luke 1 and 2
Sarah sees it as a privilege to come alongside those impacted by the brokenness and troubles of this life. Seeing firsthand how the Gospel and the Word of God have impacted and changed her life...