Friday, December 16, 2016

To Anyone Who Struggles at Christmas

You need to know you are not alone.

Next to you in the store, the neighborhood, the church, the ball field is someone who is also struggling. Struggling at Christmas. Struggling with life.

So that is why I am writing this. Life is too short and too precious to waste on the inner turmoil. Today is the day to let the light in and trust you are loved.

If you've been around this blog you know I have been through it these last couple of years.

Two stays in psychiatric wards, one overseas. The very sudden departure from a home I loved. Knowing my precious husband and children had to do the same. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder which has wanted to cling about me like some dark hovering cloud.

I have been through it and that is why I can write to you about your struggle.

I write from the broken place of moves and transitions and mental illness which has severely distorted home. Where is home? In many ways, at 42 years old, I do not know.

And the holidays, they bring up all of the broken things. We understand that something beautiful is happening. Something beautiful we are meant to enjoy, but we just can't get there and why can't we? What is our problem?

We are pulled apart. One side tells us all of the things we can do to fix this. The other side tells us it cannot be fixed at all. Something is missing and we're desperate to find it.

Maybe it's how we don't want to bake those cookies for the neighbors because warm and fuzzy is far away. And we would need to feel at home with ourselves to find joy in this. But this peace is far from us.

Or maybe it's that we wish someone in the world would be our neighbor. Like the way Jesus tells us all to love neighbors as ourselves--fiercely, wholly, fully. But we can't imagine there is one tangible person who has that kind of love for us.

Maybe it's how we are tired. Tired of the same broken relationships either on the brink of volatility so we tiptoe around them, or they are withdrawn to the point of wondering if they have a pulse.

Maybe it's the self-loathing. Who are we anyhow and what do we have to offer? What can we bring that is 'merry and bright' to the Christmas table? Our burrowing thoughts say 'nothing, nothing at all'.

It's not feeling sorry for yourself to experience any of these things. It's real and natural and can I say it again?  

You are not alone.

But there's this too. It is not the quick fix, but the vision that can change everything. It's the one step we can take which becomes a trail which will lead us through our pain to the other side.

We remember the true light of Christmas.

We remember he came humble and frail.

We remember it was the brokenness of God which shed his blood.

We remember neither height nor depth can separate us from his love.

We remember because this is the truth of Christmas.

We can take this step. Together. For we are not alone.

I am here on the other side of this keyboard struggling just like you. Struggling to cultivate a fledgling sense of purpose. Struggling to remember how to be still and know the presence of God. Struggling for all I cannot find of holiday cheer. Struggling for the home that can be so hard to know in this journey.

Struggling as I miss my mother no matter how many Christmases she is gone. Her frail body in a hospital now 15 years ago, is the most meaningful Christmas I knew. We celebrated life. We remembered hope. We knew in the face of death there was One Love that could win it all back.

I am here just like you. And I am going to take just this one step like you. I am going to remember the good and let go of the bad. I am going to receive the moments whether busy or lonely and leave nothing to perfection or failure, but simply take it as it is.

And I will not forget how loved I am...just like you.


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