I wrote this last year, but wanted to share it again this year in hopes it might encourage some of you who might feel the same way…
Can I be really honest with you? My heart’s been heavy this December.
I usually love the Christmas season. I love the smells, the music, the food, the time with family and friends, the special moments and memories.
But this year? My heart feels burdened.
There are so many people around me who are going through hard things… friends who are grieving the loss of a child, friends who have experienced deep physical and emotional pain this past year, friends who are struggling in their marriage, friends who are struggling financially, friends who are grieving big losses… and on and on the list goes.
I just want to fix it all and take it all away so that Christmas can be joyful and cheerful and wonderful — instead of painful and hurtful.
But I can’t take away the pain. I can’t replace what was lost. I can’t fix someone else’s marriage. I can’t heal someone else’s wounded relationship. I can’t wave a magic wand and solve someone’s unemployment struggles.
So what can I do? I can pray. I can listen. I can encourage. I can go out of my way to show that I care.
I can give the gift of myself.
And that’s the gift that most are longing for this Christmas — to know that they aren’t alone. That they are loved. That they are seen. That they are cared about. That, in the midst of all of the festivities and celebrations, their pain and hurt and heartache is not forgotten.
So my Christmas challenge for all of you today is this: In the middle of the merry-making, the carol-singing, the cookie-decorating, the present-giving, and the gift-unwrapping, look around and notice that person who is hurting and grieving.
The widow across the street. The woman holding the tattered sign on the side of the road. Your aunt sitting across the table from you at Christmas dinner.
Look into her eyes. Ask her how she’s doing. Let her know — by your words and actions — that she isn’t forgotten. That she is seen. And most importantly, that she is loved.
Give the gift of yourself this Christmas. It’s the greatest gift you have to offer.