This first appeared two years ago. Last year I wrote, “I’m reminded how each year looks different :)!” And then two days after Thanksgiving our church received a piece of news that sent us reeling. I find myself this week comparing what I knew/thought I knew on— say— Tuesday, of last year to what we found out. This is why we need this letter every year. We need to be anchored in a story larger than a season. Much love friends. Much love. Amy
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 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. You may 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 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.