It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Part Two)
I am thankful for more reflections from Cindy Darnell about this time of year…
As some of you may remember, this time last year, I wrote a blog about the challenges of Christmas time. Erica recently referred to it in a conversation we were having so I went back and read it and was really encouraged by the conversation it spawned and thought it would be good to open the door again this year for similar conversation. Just to recap… last year I basically outed myself in admitting that Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year for me for many reasons. I know lots of people struggle with some very real things during the holidays and in the spirit of making Restoration a place where we can be open with and pray for one another, my heart is to shine light in the darkness and provide an avenue for conversation.
In looking back over last year, I can see some small signs of progress. First and foremost, as a dear mentor of mine says, I have decided to “make peace with my reality”. The reality of my situation is that my immediate family lives hundreds of miles away and I’d rather be with them than home alone, so that means I have to travel at Christmas because it’s easier for me to do so than them for many reasons. The angst I had about the travel last year did me no good in the grand scheme of things. The other reality of my situation is that while I’d love to be celebrating Christmas with a husband, I’m still single. While it’s good to acknowledge the disappointment that comes with that reality and pray through it, it doesn’t do any good to dwell in it. So, taking the emotion out of it I am better able this year to accept my situation for what it is, even though it’s not what I would prefer, and just get on with it.
Secondly, I’m realizing that choices have consequences. (Duh, right?) I made a choice 12 years ago to live away from my family. This Thanksgiving, I made a choice to stay home rather than travel to be with family. Consequently, I was bummed to not be with family on Thanksgiving but it was a result of two choices I made. Even my parents’ decision to divorce over 30 years ago still has consequences in that if I want to see both sets of parents, I have to travel both to PA and New England.
Thirdly, I need to have the courage and humility to ask for what I need. As I was thinking about what I would do for Thanksgiving this year instead of being with my own family, I knew I wanted to be with A family that is part of my extended family in Christ for the holidays. God brought a couple folks to mind and I finally got up the courage to ask. I was totally blessed by the result. I ended up spending the majority of the day with the mentor I mentioned above. I’ve heard a lot about her family over the years and it was a blessing to be able to spend time with them and see how they interact and just soak in the experience. I heard later from a mutual friend that she was thrilled that I asked and my mentor has told me since that she is “adopting me as her grandchild”. What a blessing!
To summarize the lessons, I would say the bottom line is I need to put aside the emotion and not let it drive me. If I’m able to see the situation more clearly and not be blinded by sadness or pride or anxiety it makes things much easier (not easy…easier). This is something I need to learn throughout my life, not just at Christmastime.
Finally, as Cameron pointed out in the blog comments last year, Advent essentially is all about the tension of the longing for Christ in a broken world. I think so often that is lost in the midst of all the commercialized holiday cheer. When I really focus on the true meaning of this season, it makes me feel a whole lot less guilty about not being very cheerful at Christmas. I recently saw the quote below written about advent on this website. I pray that it helps to reframe the way you look at this season.
If you are struggling this season – talk to someone: friends, family, your small group leader, me – just don’t sit in the darkness.
Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance!
It is that hope, however faint at times, and that God, however distant He sometimes seems, which brings to the world the anticipation of a King who will rule with truth and justice and righteousness over His people and in His creation. It is that hope that once anticipated, and now anticipates anew, the reign of an Anointed One, a Messiah, who will bring peace and justice and righteousness to the world.