I’ll never forget my first job after college. I graduated in May and two days later moved from my small college town to the big city with all my possessions loaded in my little two-door car. I landed my first corporate job working in public relations and was thrilled to climb the proverbial ladder. Adjusting from the carefree life of a college student to a big-city career woman didn’t happen overnight. That summer, while friends who didn’t start their jobs immediately were hanging by the pool, I was running to meetings and sweltering in my poly-wool blend suit and panty-hose. (Yes, dear ones, I had to wear panty-hose to work.) #corporateworldprobs
The most significant shock of my post-college girl life was the realization that occurred around the first week of December when I discovered that my company didn’t have a “Christmas Break.” Somehow I had lived in this delusional state where I thought all companies operated on a college schedule and there would naturally be a long break sometime in December and January where we just closed down the office while we all went home for the holidays.
I’ll never forget my forty-something old boss (whom I thought was ancient at the time) looking at me like I had lost my mind when I asked her (and I quote) “How many weeks do we get off for Christmas?” (Note the usage of the word “weeks,” not days.)
Once she realized I was not kidding, she explained to me that I had used ALL OF MY VACATION DAYS to go to Cancun in October and that I would not have any days off for Christmas other than the actual day.
Y’all, adulting is hard.
I was thinking about that story this week as most of the world heads into Christmas break. As family Christmas cards fill my mailbox and I finish my last-minute shopping, I feel that warm fuzzy electricity that is this time of year. While I’m so grateful for all my blessings this season, I also remember those years when the haunting refrains of Christmas carols hit my tender, wounded heart. I recall looking at other people’s Christmas cards and feeling the sting of longing.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that my heart is burdened for those who are suffering this season. What I’ve come to realize is this: grief doesn’t take a Christmas break.
Whether it is grief from death or a divorce or whether the suffering is due to physical or emotional pain, the Christmas season can be tough for some, and it doesn’t just disappear when radio stations begin blasting Christmas music 24/7.
This week I’ve talked to a dear friend whose child is facing a life-threatening illness, a different friend who is battling infertility, and another woman who’s personally battling a terminal disease. There are others fighting for their marriages and others for whom this time of year brings fresh reminders of a loved one passed.
Here’s the questions I’m wrestling with right now. How do we help those who are hurting this Christmas?
I don’t want to diminish one ounce of joy or make anyone feel guilty because they aren’t in a place of grief, but I do hope that we as redeemed women can be mindful and open-hearted towards those who find themselves in tough spaces. I also want to speak to those reading this who are heartbroken this season. I pray Jesus has a word for both in this post.
Since I want to love others well who are hurting, I called a dear friend who is a professional Christian counselor who specifically deals with depression and grief and asked her how we can love others well in this season. She suggested:
1. Don’t ignore the person or their pain. Often those hurting feel excluded because others don’t know how to act around them or what to say. To avoid our own discomfort, we tend to steer clear of those hurting. This reaction only amplifies their suffering. Reach out and initiate the relationship.
2. Don’t feel like you need to have the right words or answers. Presence is often all that is required. Those suffering don’t need a sermon or “quick fix” anecdotes. Your prayers and presence are most helpful.
3. Let them talk. Ask questions and invite the person to share. It is incredible how much just talking about the pain helps someone heal.
Redeemed Girls, I believe Jesus has placed each one of us as His hands and feet in this world. He ordained that you would be the one to show love and support to someone in your circle who needs to know that Jesus sees and cares for them. Join me in asking God’s Holy Spirit to give us eyes to see who He would have us care for this Christmas. What an incredible gift it is to be used by God to minister His healing, kindness, and love to one another. If that isn’t what Christmas is about, then I don’t know what is!
Maybe you are the one who is battling depression, grief, or loneliness this holiday season. I want you to know I would love to pray for you. Please comment below or email us privately at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how to pray for you. I believe God’s presence is real and He will minister to your needs. His nearness, His love, and His Peace are the precious gifts He gives us in our times of suffering.
I want to leave all of us with this truth. Christmas is the celebration of the first coming of Jesus Christ, our Savior. He came to earth to save people from sin. He came and suffered and died. He is our Great High Priest, who is also called The Wonderful Counselor. As a human, Jesus experienced all the same pain and suffering we experience. Friends, He knows. One of the blessings of suffering is that we can experience the intimacy of knowing Jesus in way we would never know otherwise. I pray for anyone reading this who is carrying a heavy heart that you would carry your burden to Jesus and allow Him to minister to your pain.
Finally, as we celebrate the first advent of Jesus, let us look with hope-filled eyes towards His second advent. Scripture teaches us that Jesus will return and when He does, He will “wipe away every tear from our eyes.” There is a day coming when there will be no more sickness, no more death, no more sin, and no more sorrow. As we celebrate Christmas, let us do so with hearts and minds lifted high in hope as we remember the Jesus, who will make ALL THINGS NEW!
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying:
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man,
and He will live with them.
They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them as their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and there will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain,
for the former things have passed away.”
And the One seated on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are faithful and true.” And He told me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give freely from the spring of the water of life. The one who is victorious will inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. Revelation 21:3-7