This was hard for me to write. I struggled more than two weeks to even commit to paper my feelings. Starting from before Thanksgiving and through New Year’s, the holidays linger around me like a black, threatening fog.
This is supposed to be the happiest time of the year. Gratitude and giving, togetherness and the happiness of children and loved ones; sadly, I have little. None of this is available to me in the celebrations of the holidays. I lost my children and family. What loved ones I have are hundreds of miles away, and they all have families of their own of which I am not a part. I have no material resources to give as symbols of my love.
I am not alone. There are millions of others. The hyper-concentration of the season on family and material possessions creates a heightened feeling of pain and isolation on those who suffer during the holidays. This is not just “The Blues.” It can become so severe that it very often leads to destructive behavior—up to and including suicide.
I fell into this category and nearly committed suicide a couple of times. I still have a problem when I think of all the people and material possessions I have lost. This season sharply focuses a searing laser on that loss. But I am saved from catastrophic destruction now. It was at the moment that I was closest to death from despair.
The faint—so faint—spark of spiritual faith that was inside me cried out in pain and anguish for help. At first my cry to God was for death. I knew he wouldn’t kill me though. So I pleaded that he step aside so that my destructive behavior could do the ultimate and take me away from a world of agony and misery. He didn’t do that either. Somehow I knew he wouldn’t. So finally I just cried out in surrender. “I give up!” I cried. “Please God, Dear God, take this pain from me!” Immediately I was filled to overflowing by his love.
He didn’t remove the pain of the memories of a nearly wasted life. I need those memories to keep me honest. He didn’t remove the pain that comes from the reminders of loss that this season brings. I need that pain to keep my faith sharp. What he did do was remind me that as long as I would accept it he had more love for me than I would ever need. As long as I continued in faith, he would be here for me with his Spirit in mine. Most of all, he reminded me of his gift to me, celebrated this time of year, when he placed his own Spirit on earth for the sole purpose of bringing me (and all of humanity) back to him so that none of us need to ever be alone and empty again. Therein lies my peace. Therein lies my hope and faith. Therein lies my comfort whenever this season threatens me emotionally at every turning.
His gift to all of us at this time of year seems very ironic to those of us who suffer so badly at this time of year. But it only seems that way, for it is his gift that makes every other thing—pain and anguish included—worth bearing.