“I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul” (Psalm 31:7).
“Happy Holidays” is very familiar expression at this time of the year. But pain and illness are no respecters of the calendar and can cause us to feel anything but happy.
We may feel depressed because we can’t be with loved ones, attend events, or decorate, cook, and shop the way we would like.
Or we may be concerned about the traveling, socializing, or hosting that we are scheduled to do. Either way, we may wish we could skip the holiday season entirely.
Here are a few suggestions from the Grief Share book Surviving the Holidays which, although written for those who have lost loved ones, can also be helpful for those facing health challenges.
Have realistic expectations. The world promotes the necessity of a perfectly decorated home, the best food, the most beautiful presents, and a full social calendar to be happy. Even many healthy people’s holidays don’t meet these expectations.
Simplify. Ask others to bring food or order from stores. Decorate less or rotate decorations. Shop online as much as possible. Choose the social and religious events that will be most meaningful to you and let the others go.
Consider new traditions. Instead of being discouraged over what we can’t do, we can develop new traditions that are enjoyable now.
Reach out to others. Taking the emphasis off ourselves helps us put our struggles in perspective and allows us to bless others in need.
Focus on the true meaning of the season. In Surviving the Holidays Sue Lutz writes:
“[Christ] came to defeat the sin and sorrow that overwhelms us at the holidays. When you focus on this, it helps you get past the everyday trappings of the Christmas season that can tear you down. When you look at the eternal perspective of what Jesus came to do, it sweeps you up into the lasting things that God is bringing to your life through His coming.”
Pain and illness may keep us from having the happy holidays the world promotes, but they don’t have to keep us from having a meaningful one.
And in those moments when we are feeling our losses the most, we can look to our Savior who understands, and whose coming brings joy in the midst of sorrow.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, it is easy for me to focus on the wrong things at this time of year and only see the things I can’t do or don’t have. Regardless of what traditional aspects of the holiday season I can or can’t enjoy, may I find soul-satisfying happiness in celebrating Your coming to earth for me and in the hope of my incomparably happy eternal future with You. Amen.
About the author:
Bronlynn Spindler lives in North Carolina and is blessed to have the support and encouragement of a wonderful husband, three daughters, and their husbands. God’s grace and strength have brought her through thyroid cancer and continue to sustain her through ongoing back pain, depression, headaches, multiple sensitivities, and fibromyalgia. You may view her blog of devotionals at http://www.aplaceofsprings57.blogspot.com.
How can changing your perspective on a few things alter your Christmas holiday experience?
As cities and town put up decorations, as the lights start to appear on neighbor’s rooftops, you may have a sense of sadness . . . or even dread. Do you already anticipate feeling something other than Christmas-y? This song, “Where Are You, Christmas?” with Faith Hill may touch you deeply. There are times when we wonder if our life determines the Christmas feeling. But it’s supposed to be the other way around. Christmas–and Jesus’ birth–is supposed to determine how we feel about life. Bless you. -Lisa