Tuesday, December 2, 2014

(un)Happy Holidays

Have you ever struggled to contain a bundle of volatile emotions that are begging to be released? Have you ever felt like you succeeded only to have an avalanche of tears appear out of nowhere at the worst possible moment?  This has happened to me many times, and I am sure you can relate as well. If I can be a little blunt and potentially offensive, I have come to the conclusion that it is similar to trying to hold your bladder until a better time. At some point, it will empty, whether you are ready or not. 

So why do we try to hold it in instead of releasing it before it’s involuntary? For me, many times it is because I do not want to appear not to have it together. But you know what the truth of the matter is? I don’t have it together a lot of the time. Sometimes, many times actually, I put on a smile and attempt to fake it until I make it. Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Oh my... you have NO idea. So you are probably wondering why I bother. 

Where to start... Well, sometimes I feel as if people expect that I should be over the loss of my marriage or further along in the healing process. After all, it was over a year ago that he left the first time. But as na├»ve as it may be, I fully expected things to work out each time he came back home. So each time he left, it was a little bit like starting over. A dream died once again. I was alone once again. I was grieving a loss once again. 

Recently there have been many things on the radio or on various blogs about coping with loss during the holidays. Some people are missing family and friends due to death. Some are missing them due to physical distance. Some people are missing loved ones by that loved one’s choice. All of these hurt. And for some reason, sometimes, the pain is glossed over, as if a joyous holiday is somehow supposed to erase that pain. I’d say for most of us experiencing the suffering, the holidays emphasize that pain. Do you ever struggle with not being able to fully enjoy this season and feel guilty?

Why do we have this idea that we cannot feel our pain and still be joyous over the birth of our Savior? Why do we feel that it cheapens the birth of Christ that we mourn the death or loss of someone we love? I know for me, it’s not just the family aspect of the season that makes it painful without my husband, although that certainly aches. It is the actual celebration of Christ’s birth. I served alongside my husband for years in our church. Every Christmas event that our church participates in year after year is something that we did together. We celebrated the reason for the season together. And then I look at where he is spiritually and it almost hurts physically. 

Do you know what I find comfort in? Jesus mourns right along with me. While I feel as if I am the one my husband is rejecting, it is really just the fallout of him rejecting Jesus. When it hurts me on the deepest level to walk into church without my husband, when I want to cry looking at where we used to sit together, it hurts Jesus too. And He does NOT expect me to be able to hold it together. He does not expect me to pretend it does not hurt. He just wants me to allow Him to be the one to hold me together, because on my own, I cannot do it. When He sees your loss, He aches with you. Death was never what He wanted for us, and He knows it hurts. 

So this season, if you are tempted to try holding it together on your own, for whatever reason, let Jesus hold you together instead, because in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17) And allowing Him to be the one to hold us together allows us to experience our raw, honest emotions with Him by our side, and what greater comfort is there? To be held by the One that collects our tears; the One that endured ultimate suffering; the only One that will never leave us; the only One that will never forsake us; the One that does not condemn our brokenness, but instead glories in being the glue that makes us whole in Him.

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