Friday, November 21, 2014
Love letters to hurting hearts
It's official....the holiday season is upon us. I went to the mall today to pick up an item and everywhere I looked, I saw Christmas. My ears perked up as I heard Jolly 'Ol Saint Nicholas. I am a Christmas season kind of gal.
I relish in the weather, the sights and sounds, and the goodness that flows from people's hearts. I love reading and studying Jesus's birth and what it means for me.
As I was thinking about all things Christmas, it hit me that so many people feel stressed and lonely this time of year. Some people worry about where they will find the funds to buy presents. While others dread spending time with family. Some feel lonely over the death of a loved one. While some are reminded of strained relationships and ache for things to be well. Some are struggling with a diagnoses. While others are heart broken as they watch a loved one deteriorate.
The reality of all the pain hit me like a ton of bricks. I wish I could talk with every single hurting person and share love. While it wouldn't take away the pain, I could let them know someone cares. Since it's impossible to talk with every person who is struggling with the holiday season, I decided to write love notes to all them.
To those of you worried about buying gifts-
It can be overwhelming to worry about money. You look around this time of year and commercialism is right in your face. You long to show people you care with gifts. You don't want anyone to know you are struggling because you are ashamed and embarrassed. It's difficult to ask for help. Please know that there is no shame in asking for help. There are many people who truly want to help people who need it. Often, the people who help understand the most because they have been in your shoes. Churches are a great resource for help. They offer food and gifts for children. Also, homemade gifts are some of the best gifts out there because they are made with love in mind. You will get through this, even when it doesn't feel like it. God does not see your bank account and assign you a worth card. You are worthy and loved no matter what. Lean on Him, dear friend.
To those who dread spending time with family-
Spending time with people who have hurt you or betrayed you can be difficult. It is never fun to be around toxic people or placed in tense situations. We want to run and hide from it all. I write this as a person who has been there. Here's my loving advice - don't let anyone steal the joy that Jesus so freely gives you. When you are around people who drag you down, hold your head high. Spend your time pleasing Jesus. Focus on what He wants, rather than the hurt and tension. Let Him own your heart, not those around you. Also, it is completely ok to limit your time at family functions. If the environment is too toxic, a short visit will suffice. Do what's right by Jesus and you will leave the function with a clear conscious and a clean heart.
To those who feel lonely over the death of a loved one-
You have to grieve. Period. No matter what time of year it is, a heart that loved deeply will ache deeply. You are grateful for the love Jesus gave you to share, but the pain seems unbearable. Don't deny yourself your pain. Keep a journal and write prayers, pains, and times you feel lifted up. Cry out to God and tell Him exactly how you feel. Lean on Him to get you through this season with a heart that can still love and rely on Him.
Those who suffer due to strained relationships-
Strained relationships stink. They are painful and hurt like the dickens. You may not be in control of the strain at all. I get that. My biological father wanted nothing to do with me. Right up to his death, he didn't seem to want anything to do with me. Here's what I learned - it was not my fault. We cannot control other people's hearts, emotions, actions, or reactions. When someone you love has cut you out of their life, you have to rely on God. You have to know without a shred of doubt that God's love for you is not dependent on people's ability to give love. As a matter of fact, He has quite a tender heart for those who feel unloved. Ask Him to surround you and carry you. I promise with every breathe I breath, He will.
If you have created the strain, think about mending it this season. I know it is scary. I know you might not want to. Oh my goodness-I fit into this one to. It is hard putting a broken relationship back together. It has to be done piece by piece. Once you begin, the weight that is lifted off of your shoulders is amazing. You will not realize the pain weighing you down until you release it. Ask God to hold your hand and guide you in this. He will lead you where He wants you to go. You only have to listen and obey.
To those who struggle with a diagnoses-
I do not want to write anything that will minimize your pain and fear. I will not tell you not to worry. These are all emotions that accompany medical diagnoses. I will tell you that it is ok to cry. It is ok to lean on those around you and let them carry you. Let them shower you in love and care for you the only way love knows how. God knows your full story. Trust Him that He is in charge. Even when things seem hopeless, He is there. When worries invade you and you can think of nothing else, remember...but God.
To those who are watching a loved one struggle with an illness-
God knows your heart. He knows your pain and cries when you cry. Don't ever doubt that Jesus cries. The shortest verse in the Bible reads, "Jesus wept" (John 11:35). You are not alone, even when you feel like it. Your strength and courage may feel depleted. You wonder how you will continue to show care when you feel so empty. You wonder how you will survive if something happens to your loved one. Take heart, sweet one, God knows. He does not want you to feel guilt over your feelings. He wants you to know He hears you and understands. He does not expect you to do this alone. Lean in and put your head on His shoulder. Let Him comfort you and fill you back up with His love and strength. He knows-
God created me to feel deeply. My heart hurts at the thought of anyone struggling. Please know that I will pray over these letters and those who read them. I love each and every one of you regardless if we have never laid eyes on each other. You are a child of God and we are related, sweet friend. You are loved by your King. Lean on Him and let Him carry you.