I don’t have to tell you, it’s the holiday season. We have reminders surrounding us. I don’t care where you live, social media and the internet won’t let you forget.
You might want to. The holidays are supposed to be happy, but you’ve gotten news this week that has t-boned you and now you’re not sure which direction you’re going.
It was the day before Thanksgiving last year for our family. With one doctor’s report pieces both fell into place and scattered all over the floor.
So that might explain what’s going on.
Oh my word, this … just … might … I do not want to say it because then it will make it true … be his last Thanksgiving.
Your news might be medical too. Or involving relationships or finances or your job or be about your kids or a pregnancy or a dashed dream.
So many ways bad news can enter a life.
I am so sorry for the hit you have taken. The air that has been knocked out of your soul. The way you may have lost your bearings this week. And though you know you’ll (probably) recover from this, right now you’re a bit stunned. And you know deep in your gut this might be a game changer. You will bear the mark of this week for the rest of your days.
What you might not know right now is the size of the scar.
The news you received may end up fading over time. Or it may not. Our shock is over, but we still dance around the holes in our lives figuring out what they mean.
For you, what to do this week? When the message being projectile vomited at you from all directions is be thankful (OR ELSE).
That’s not the gospel. That’s not why Jesus came. Your pain is real. But your pain is not supreme. So, again, what do you do?
Embrace the messy middle. You may need to make adjustments this holiday. Change locations, scale back, maybe make a road trip. I don’t know what you will need to do. Honor the holiday in some way while also honoring your pain. I am grateful for the memories I have of last year. They include Dad’s last turkey dinner at a dear friend’s house and texting with my sister afterwards saying how for both of us there had been tears. We were in shock.
The messy middle creates space for the good and the bad. The joy and the sorrow. The pain and the pleasure. You may want to deny what’s happened or deny the holidays. If possible, lean into the tension and find ways that real holidays involving real life are richer than the shallow versions offered by advertisers. A better cell plan isn’t the answer to a rich and fulfilling life, finding ways to make gestures towards each other is.
A few years ago part of our family was with Dad who was in rehab for a broken hip, and just as the rest of us sat down for the meal my phone rang. After I had spent most of the day on a situation involving a suicidal American in China, I was now going to miss the meal with my family because her mom had gotten my phone message. I had to break the news that would forever be associated with this holiday and yet she needed to know and be a part of the plan for her daughter’s safety.
Let me say it again — I am so sorry for the news you received this week. Some years are harder and you’re having one of those.
It comforts me that Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation was written in the midst of Civil War. Clearly all was not right with the country. And yet.
And yet he knew in the midst of bad news it is worthwhile to pause and remember the story is bigger than this news, this week. God gave us two hands, one to hold the troubles and one to hold the hope. Use them both. Offer them both.
I will be thinking of you this week. And if you want me to pray for you or just want to share your story leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t make it go away, but we can let you know you’re not alone.
“God gave us two hands, one to hold the troubles and one to hold the hope.”
That really resonated with me, Amy. Thanks.
Rick and Sue White says
Thanks Amy. “Honoring the holiday in some way, while still honoring your pain.” Such good counsel!
Mark Allman says
I remembered your father on Saturday when I was out of town running a half marathon. Before the event I saw this homeless guy on the side of the road and thought of your dad right away. I did what your father would have done.
Thank you for this post. I have challenging times which I associate with Thanksgiving and I have watched its approach this year trigger some of the pain all over again. I know that is both normal and ok, but it is challenging nonetheless. Thank you for allowing me to acknowledge that, and that while I might celebrate Thanksgiving alone in China and not be able to speak about the challenge it is for me, I am not alone.
~ linda says
This is an excellent post for this time of year. We are so overwhelmed with all the media-hype and tra-la-la-la-las that living in the midst of messy middles should be impossible. But it is real and they happen and we are often in those middles even when we “should” be singing for joy and having a grand time.
Christ came for us, to teach, to suffer, to love…and He did. He is our “run-to” no matter what time of year it is, and especially this time we must depend upon Him for all and be grateful. He is walking us through and with us with every step.
Praising Him, ~ linda
Martha Lester says
Thanks for the sharing. Holding the pain in one hand and the hope in the other is a good reminder. It is helpful to remember that pain and hope and thankfulness and grief can co-exist. Sometimes in our dichotomist thinking we don’t believe they can all be there in the mix together – but they can – and it can be messy and still beautiful.
I will be thinking of you and your family especially this Thanksgiving without your Dad in present bodily form with you but only in the memories.
Nita Kulesau says
Amy… My dear Mom died the day before Thanksgiving in 1971. I still hold the pain (troubles) of that loss in one hand and the memories and joy of her person in the other. So … What do I do on the day before Thanksgiving? I bake pies, of course since that’s what she always did! We’ll have pumpkin, apple, and pecan … Feel free to stop by!!
Thanks, Amy. Thanks for offering to lift us up during our tough times.
It’s been more than nine months and I still haven’t achieved equilibrium, either physically or emotionally. I am SO much better than I was when I left China back in January, but some days I miss being in China so much it hurts! And some days it just hurts. (Thanks, MS!) Most days I’m fine, both physically and emotionally, but then it sneaks up on me and POW! it knocks me for a loop.
I guess the most important thing that you could pray for me is that I would be content in resting in Him during this time of transition and not knowing where He’ll lead me next. Being still is so hard for me! And yet, I know that He calls to me and says, “Be still and know that I am God!”
Mike, I have been praying for you … and I think many, many of us can relate to what you’ve shared! I’m better too, but sometimes there will be a wave of emotion the seems to be like a sneaker wave :). Praying for contentment and stillness! And a sense that there is still more to come. With love, Amy
Debbie Marshall says
Thank you, Amy.
My news may pose a financial challenge, but no deep personal griefs.
I’ll be praying for you and yours this year too. Annaversaries of difficulties carry their own kind of grief.
In His love,
And I’ll be praying for you too, friend! Thanks :)
Thanks, Amy. Big hugs XX
hugs back Diane!