I wonder if anyone will be reading this today.. it is such a busy time of the year.. Maybe I am writing this just for me and that’s OK too. This has been a long year for me and the most difficult year of my life.. the end is in sight and sometime in the first week in January I will be moving again.. I moved three months ago and that was very traumatic.. I pray everyday that the Lord will help me make another transition and that His Grace will sustain me.
Life is so unpredictable.. the future is so unclear and that is really for everyone not just me. We never know what will happen next to turn our lives inside out or upside down.. life is so fragile but we try not to think about that. It is so easy to get comfortable and to forget that this life can change in a moment. I am not writing this to upset anyone.. after all it is Christmas Eve and isn’t it a time to celebrate? For some of us that is exactly what will be happening but for others.. including myself, it is a lonely night and a sad night because people we love are missing from our lives and no one can take their place. I am going to visit my husband in skilled nursing today and he will not understand that it is Christmas Eve or that I am lonely because we no longer live together and he is ill. Maybe that is for the best.. but he will be very glad to see me as he is every day and he will tell me that he loves me as he does every time.. even though he has lost much of his ability to remember and to speak clearly he still has his whole heart and the spirit of God is still working through him.. I am so grateful.
I feel very vulnerable sharing this with you.. but somehow my blog seems like the place to express the real things in my life.. something I probably need to do right now. So this is a hard day for me.. a hard season.. a hard year. Next week I will have another birthday and remember that 18 years ago on my birthday my husband asked me to marry him. He is still the love of my life and will always be.. I am thankful for all these years.. even the current ones that have been so challenging. I have learned to treasure the moments because I don’t know how many more I will have.. I have discovered that this life is fleeting and we never know when it will end or when someone we love might get sick or die.. It is out of our hands..
Probably the biggest gift of this season is the way I able to see the Lord caring for me and guiding my steps as I stumble along. He makes himself known in many different ways each day. He works through His people to encourage and love me.. He is truly Emmanuel.. GOD WITH US! It is not just a name… it is who He is..
I need him every minute of every day just to continue to have hope and to believe that He will bring good out of this tragedy.. there is no other way to survive. So the name Emmanuel has become real to me this year and I am thankful.
My prayer for you is that you encounter the Lord in this season.. that the things of this world will disappear as you come close to Him.. in your brokenness.. in your grief and sadness.. Christmas is a time to be real with Him to allow Him to become more real to you.. We live in dark times and there are so many things that steal our joy and hope in this dark world.. We need Him more than ever.. He is our sanctuary, our peace and our hope.
What happened this week? Two celebrities that many people admired and believed in are gone. Both of them took their own lives and left behind young daughters. It is profoundly sad and tragic. As I think through this horrible loss, I realize once again how little we know about people and the pain they carry inside. These people did not just decide in one day to take their own lives.. there is history here. More than likely they were struggling with depression and despair for years before this happened. Anxiety and depression are at epidemic proportions in our country and possibly around the world. We live in a broken world and it is so easy to feel overwhelmed and under water emotionally. When someone in the public eye decides to take their own life.. it causes widespread grief to spread throughout the culture and the world. Why? We never saw it coming.. they seemed to be doing so well. Yet we are faced with a different reality.. obviously they were not doing well at all and maybe someone should have seen it coming.
So we have to process this loss and hopefully we will take it seriously by realizing that many people are struggling with the desire to end their own lives. The suicide rate has risen 25% in the US since 1999. That statistic tells us that something is terribly wrong. For many of us.. life is nothing like we hoped it would be.. either our dreams are not coming true or they have come true and we still feel empty. Either way this world does not seem to have much to offer us. We need more than the fulfillment of our desires to hang on to..we need someone to turn to when it gets so bad we cannot see a way out. Without faith.. we are totally lost. We were never meant to do all this alone. I remember knowing this when I was a child growing up in an atheist home with unbelieving parents. Somehow I realized that I could not do life alone like they were.. my heart longed for the Living God. Eventually I found out that He longed for me too and that was 40 years ago.
So today.. so many years later I still know that I cannot do it alone.. especially in the middle of the night when the tears are flowing and the hopeless tries to take over. He is my refuge and my sanctuary and He will rescue me as I call out to Him. I truly hope you are in relationship with this amazing God who gave everything so you could come to Him, rest in Him and trust Him.
Don’t entertain any self-destructive thoughts.. find someone to talk with and never make a rash decision that you have nothing to live for.. You are the beloved child of the Lord and He knows you and accepts you and will never leave you.
Have you ever felt like you were falling? What I mean is the feeling that you are not going to be able to keep standing under your current circumstances..it’s all just too much..you wonder..will I make it this time? How is this all going to work out? Everything seems out of control and uncertain. Do you know what I am writing about? I wish you were here so we could talk about this.. it is such an important topic.
Life is always throwing unexpected challenges our way. We suddenly find ourselves underwater. Which way is up? We are swimming and swimming hoping we can come to the top for air before it is too late. We grow weary..we are drained..worn out and discouraged. Our hearts are heavy and our spirits are sagging under the weight of it all. There are seasons like that for all of us and sometimes they happen right around the holidays..in fact they often seem to coincide with this time of the year.
Our culture says..be happy..spend money..pretend that everything is wonderful. Sometimes our churches do something similar. Rejoice..give thanks..God is good..Romans 8:28..we are supposed to embrace this season with the joy of the Lord. What if we really don’t feel that way right now? It is OK..in fact it’s more than OK.. it is often the most difficult time to rejoice. Grief comes to the surface during the holidays..old grief and new grief. Old wounds are opened by family gatherings. Unpleasant memories are triggered by familiar faces.
This season reminds us of those who are gone from our presence and won’t be celebrating with us. Every holiday can trigger those memories and bring a sweet sadness to the surface. It is the way God made us. He created us to feel deeply and to remember. So what are we supposed to do with all this? Take it all to Him..be honest..don’t cover up..ask for His help and don’t condemn yourself for being human. He is with you and He knows all this anyway..nothing is hidden from His sight.
Spend time in His presence and let Him open those old wounds..don’t be afraid to cry. Tears bring restoration and healing..He has great things for you..trust Him with your whole heart.
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this. ”