I love NYC in the holiday season. The lights, the chill in the air, the coffee on every street corner cart…it just SCREAMS “Christmas!” to me. I remember going to the city by myself a few years ago. I would occasionally meet up with people, but for the most part, I was alone. And in that city of millions of people, isolation pervades into souls like chill creeping into your bones. I remember coming back to my hostel one night and just having this deep ache of loneliness and sadness. I had thought the trip would be a fantastic time, jotting about the city with my own agenda as king. But the alone-ness that seemed to nip at my heels was a constant companion.
Last week, my community group was sharing about holiday plans. One of the girls was commenting on going home for Christmas. Characterizing her parents as aloof and quiet, she said that the holidays were a lonely and sad time for her as a single gal.
For a lot of us, the holidays are full of…
Just plain ol’ depression.
I can’t help but think of all the warm and cheery windows that we peer in to see others holiday plans. Sometimes we see a glimpse of a person’s life on facebook and it seems their life is M. A. D. E. They post pictures of a beautiful family and a successful husband…when in reality they are slowing dying inside from the desolating combination of a workaholic spouse, naggin “you never do enough” in-laws and precious, albeit clingy children. She keeps telling herself she has so much to be grateful for…so much to really believe God’s goodness over. But she keeps feeling this deep, core-of-her-soul deep, raw ache that screams of broken dreams and unmet needs.
Or sometimes we peek into the life of a single gal, humming and strumming here and there…”living the free life.” Deep inside her heart aches with an exponentially increasing sorrow for the dreams that have yet to come. She quietly asks herself if she will EVER be married…if she will EVER have a job that fulfills…if she will EVER feel content in her season, or even that she simply belongs to her family of married siblings.
The truth is, most of us wear these feelings heavily camouflaged under a net of “I’m great! How are you? Merry Christmas!” We speak these things and then go home where we feel like an alien to even ourselves. Sometimes we even sit around and ask ourselves, “HOW did I get here?” But the energy to do something about our current state is too much. And the easier thing is to respond to the feelings with sin…an affair…believing God is not Kind or not FOR us…
This Christmas season….we are all in one of three boats…
1. You have never felt this way
2. You feel this way now
3. You used to feel this way
So as I was thinking of traditions this season, I kept thinking, “wouldn’t it be nice to start a NEW tradition of loving on someone in a way that SHOWS?” Because of this,
my challenge for us all today is to TANGIBLY love on each other like we are sister’s.
For those of us who haven’t been in this place yet OR are on the other side of this place….would you take a minute today and write a note to one of your friends who might be lonely in this season? Maybe there is a widowed neighbor who just needs you to swing by with cups of hot cooca, a plate of cookies and an hour for talking about nothing. Maybe there is SOMEONE in your circles that just needs you to be the hands and feet of Jesus this holiday season…bringing your old Christmas tree to decorate their house. I remember when my best friend showed up on my doorstep one year, after I had first moved to a city. I was lonely and sad. She had bags of Christmas decorations that she proceeded to put EVERYWHERE in my furniture-less apartment.
Maybe there is a girl who is just deeply sad where you are. You know it, you feel it, but you don’t know what to do about it. Take a minute today and write her an encouraging email, pick up her favorite healthy snack, invite her to do something with you and your friends! More than all that, pray for her…ask God to give you a deep love for your friend who is hurting. And then maybe remind her of the verses I talk of below here…
For those of you in the midst of this place…Did you know that Isaiah was a prophet to a war-torn Israel? He was the unpopular guy who got to go around and sing of God’s hell-fire and damnation forth-coming to Israel. In fact, Scripture calls him the “suffering servant.” If HE doesn’t “get” where you are, I don’t know who WOULD! Some of my favorite verses in Isaiah are 53:1-5,
“But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Becuase you are precious in My eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you. I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the West I will gather you.”
My heart RINGS with the truth of these verses…He is FOR you! He has REDEEMED YOU! He LOVES YOU. You are HIS. I love how David puts it in Psalm 68:20, “God is for us a God of Salvation” or Psalm 46:11, “God is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress.” Sometimes when I read verses with references to Old Testament characters, I tend to skim by them. But I don’t think the Holy Spirit wants us to miss a skip of a beat on this one. He DESPERATELY wants YOU TO KNOW: THE GOD WHO WAS WITH Jacob…the guy who made mistakes..the guy who wasn’t perfect…the guy who TRIED to please God…the guy who had nothing…the guy whose fortunes were restored by GOD…THIS GOD is The One Who is FOR YOU. He is Present in the middle of whatever you are facing. He sees you when your soul would scream that NO ONE sees you. I remember running in Australia, all alone on that hemisphere and weeping as my heart realized “GOD sees me.”
So can you hear this today sister? Do you hear that The God of the universe is PRESENT AND FOR YOU? Let the tears flow beloved. He sees you. He hears you. He is coming for you. And it just might be through another sister.
I can’t wait to hear about all the healing that transpires from those of us willing to take this challenge. I love y’all…my heart aches for so many of you today…praying…praying He SHOWS UP as ONLY He can!
He IS Emmanuel,
GOD WITH US.
Love you fiercely. He loves you more.