Monday, November 25, 2013

Hope for the Holidays {When Santa is Scary}

Rummaging in the closet looking for a sweater as the first chill had come in Texas, a roll of Christmas wrapping paper fell from the top shelf and into my arms. The sight took my breath away as I immediately dropped it. Heart pounding, tears burning, stunned that the sight of Jolly Old St. Nick on paper could elicit such fear within me.

The winter before had been excruciating. The peak of what would be psychologically labeled as Depression and Anxiety disorders was exposed on Christmas Eve. Weeks leading up to that night could be described as a stressful striving to be Pinterest-perfect. The pounds packing on and pushed further and further to the back of my mind. Somehow I had to be good enough. I could not be pretty but my tree could be. I could not make friends in real life but online I could...

This is no way for a child of God to live. So he brought the striving to the surface. Much like a splintered foreign object finding it's way out of human flesh--it hurts like hell. It doesn't belong there. It can’t stay there. And it won't. 

What was inside of me was exposed. For days all I could do was sit in a chair outside in the freezing cold with a blanket on me just letting the winter sun shine bright on my face. No speaking. No explaining. I could not “craft” this away. The Holy Spirit had work to do and I was to sit. 

Fast forward a few years to last week. Winter weather coming, the holiday season upon us, a husband far away on a trip, wild and woolly children fully dependent on Yours Truly. I felt it again. The weight of that Santa paper fell on my soul and took my breath away. I wasn’t expecting it.

No, no. We’re good, God. No more work needed. The splinter is out now...right?

His work is finished. But His work IN ME is never…

I write this because I know that somebody else had that paper fall on them today. Or they will tomorrow. Or they did last week. Many factors play into this and they are real. As insignificant as they may seem, we must remember that a tiny splinter creates real hurt. 

Less sunlight, spending more time inside, becoming less physically active, spending more time alone, spending more time with people, facing painful family relationships, hard events during the holidays as a kid, the absence of a dear loved one at the holiday table…

What are the factors? What are the fears?  It is important to do the hard work of thinking through what we truly feel. For me it is a combination of factors. None of which are unknown by my Father, the one who truly sees me.

God offers comfort and promises. Which promises speak to your pain and your fear? Search them out in His Word. Believe them.

God desires for us to cry out to Him and lift our complaints to him. Telling Him about it does not mean that pain will go away or that we won’t be affected by the season that is upon us.  It means acknowledging a bigger picture and a greater purpose. We are not the center of the universe--He is. He holds us all, orchestrates all and going to Him in prayer says we believe that. 

Sometimes it may be all we can do to sit, covered in the blanket of grace with the light of Christ’s face shining upon us as the cold wind bites at our soul. This will be enough.

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