Holidays Are Hard
At my Dad's funeral I said I knew Christmas would be so hard! Because Dad and I loved Christmas so much this was our special time. I had always heard my mom say how hard the holidays are for some people but I never truly understood until the first Thanksgiving without my dad.
As a little girl I have memories of us all gathering at my granny's house. I remember it was always loud, lots of laughter and lots of relatives and friends stopping by to say hello to the extended family. Every Saturday night all of the card tables would be put up for multiple games of Set Back. This happened every visit but always the biggest crowds at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
My paternal grandmother was from Wilmington so she spent the night with us and went to church with us on Christmas Eve. My brother and I would take turns having her sleep with us because she always scratched our back and told us stories til we fell asleep. She died of pancreatic cancer while I was in college. The first Christmas without her was so difficult. I cried the whole time at church because our pew was missing someone. She remains one of the most favorite people in my life. I believe she handed down faith to my dad and I.
When my granny died her house was sold and things were very different. The year that dad died Mike lost his mother. Nothing was normal any more. I remember wondering if I would see another Thanksgiving or Christmas. Since then we have lost his grandmother and other relatives. Life changes and it is not easy. I was afraid someone might forget Dad so I light a candle on the holidays in memory of him. It makes me feel better.
While death is a part of life it is still difficult during special times. Especially when we are creatures of habit and traditions. Missing those who have died is not a lack of faith. I know where my dad is but I am human. I always say because our relationship was so good it hurts so bad. Time has made things easier and I know he would want me to enjoy the holidays like he did. But I am well aware that there are so many people hurting right now that need our prayers.
As Christians we are to encourage each other. 1 Thessalonians 5: 11, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." Think of the people who are hurting during the holidays and reach out to them. There are many who are experiencing their first holiday season without their loved one. Pray for the, invite them for a meal, send them a card, call them, visit them, etc to let them know you care. Everyone likes to know that their loved one is remembered. Everyone likes to know they are remembered.
Not only are we to encourage others but we are to carry their burdens. Galatians 6: 2, "Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." There are people who are hurting during the holidays who do not have family to lean on. They are lonely and that is why they do not care for the holidays. Maybe they are hurting, they are bitter, they are tired. 1 Thessalonians 5: 14, "...encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone."
What if you are the person hurting this season? What if you are discouraged? The best thing you can do is to reach out to someone else. Reaching out and serving other people is the greatest act of kindness and love. Studies show that serving is so good for our mind and body that it can reduce stress and depression. Using our gifts can build our self confidence, strength and energy. Serving can help us learn more about our own spiritual gifts. We experience joy and peace from being obedient. Our faith is increased. We may even witness miracles. And we are distracted from our own worries! We are blessed when we are a blessing to others.
Let's ask God who needs to hear from us during the holidays. Who do we need to reach out to and encourage? Who can we help carry their load?