After a long break due to health issues I have chosen to return to my blog on Christmas Day.
Because this year, more than others, I am aware of many people who will find today & the next few days difficult & potentially very lonely.
This time last year I had not long returned home after major open heart surgery. I was exhausted, very poorly, very weak & really struggled with people being around: it was just too much & I wanted to hide away on my own … & this would be the case for at least 3 months after a Christmas that was more a case of survival than enjoyment. The very thought of company or activity or conversation was wearing. Whilst everyone else seemed to be enjoying the joys of the season, I was just wanting to hide away.
Somehow the joys of the Christmas season had become weights on my shoulders that pulled me down, rather than positive hope that lifted me up.
The very things I should enjoy were the things that were causing me the most conflict & pain.
There are many of you who, for whatever reason, are finding today (& will find the next few days) very difficult; something you feel unable to celebrate & something you want to hide away from … for a whole range of different reasons:
- Perhaps you are alone for the first time having lost a loved one: a partner; a friend; a parent; a sibling
- Maybe illness or surgery or injury means you are in hospital, or isolation
- Perhaps you have been left alone by someone you trusted or had been married to or in a relationship with
- Maybe plans just didn’t work out & you have been left stranded
- Perhaps you are alone through no fault of your own
- Maybe you have chosen to be alone
Whatever your reason, it can be a lonely, frustrating, tearful, painful time. Seeing beyond the day is impossible; surviving to the next minute or next hour seems interminably long.
In times like this it can be impossible to find any enthusiasm, motivation, direction or happiness. It seems as if they have been taken from you, hidden from you or stolen from you & there is no clue on how to find them again.
I don’t have any quick fixes or easy solutions, BUT what I can say is that the season will pass & where there is despair, no hope & seemingly no way out, a path will slowly become visible. When I struggled with severe depression, that path took a long time to appear: but IT DID! When I was in hospital after my heart surgery battling to stay alive & overcome many complications, a bleak future or future with no hope turned not a future with hope in a matter of days.
The unknown is a killer: it raises levels of anxiety & panic; it increases fear; it encourages doubt & pessimism.
The unknown can be a very powerful tool used by manipulators; it can be a weapon used by abusers; it can be a cloak of invisibility that people hide behind in order to deceive others & make life a misery.
But as that unknown slowly becomes known, so light appears at the end of our tunnel, the weight begins to lift from our shoulders & once again we see hope. Once light shines in our darkness we begin to see things as they are & begin to see the next step forward.
Our journey forward may be faltering & we may even seem to take a step or steps backward on occasions (I have been re-admitted to hospital this year with more scares & tests). But rest assured that forward movement will happen.
We will no longer be alone. We will no longer want to hide. We will no longer be afraid to go out & show our face. We will no longer doubt our sanity. We will no longer hide away.
Life will be different.
Despite where you are now, I would like to wish you a very Happy Christmas: not because I want to increase your pain, but because I believe that at some time in the future you will be able to appreciate the value of happiness & the message of hope that the Christmas Story brings. Even that story had moments of overwhelming doubt & seemingly impossible situations: but it ended with light, new life & resurrection from a dead place.
If you know someone who is alone & suffering don’t just ‘think about them’ or ‘pray for them’ or ‘wish them well.’ Get up; get out & be the encouragement they need, the hand they need to hold, the crutch they need to lean on, the blanket of hope that covers them, the guiding light that begins to shine in their darkness.
When I was in a seemingly impossible place it was not the well-wishers & ‘prayers’ that made the difference: it was those who made the effort to meet me, take me out, speak to me, listen without judgement & just be there that made the real difference.
Faith is not just hearing & believing: it is practical, requires sacrifice, it is risky BUT it releases the captives, brings hope to the hopeless, shines light in the darkness & demonstrates that our suffering friends are not & need not be alone.
Happy Christmas to all of my readers. I hope you have a peaceful & fulfilling Christmas Season & New Year.