I'll Have a Blue Christmas...Without You
Sometimes, Christmas doesn't look the same as it does for most. Sometimes the struggle is all too familiar. You look around and see the happiness, the cheer. You see everyone taking it all in. Inside, you feel like you are in a "wonderland" of sorts, that it all just seems like this ironic dream.
People experience harsh things around the holidays. Family is dysfunctional. Dads are locked up in prison. Alcohol and drugs may be plaguing a family member's life. But the biggest struggle, I believe, is to enjoy the Christmas season dealing with loss. Loss effects all of us. None of us are immune, as we all will leave this Earth at some point in time. But that fact doesn't take away the hurt...the pain of enduring the "happy" holiday season. Seeing others not struggle, while on the inside, you are just broken.
I too know what this is like. Grief and loss has affected my life in many ways. In 2015, I lost my father to lung cancer just 2 days before Christmas. I remember talking to him a week or so before...he was so excited to come. He had never been in my life much due to him making poor choices with alcohol and drugs, ending up in jail for most of my childhood. However, we had begun to mend things, and I really wanted him to have a chance to know my son, who at the time was 2 years old. I remember the night so well, as it happened yesterday. Get woken up at midnight to police telling me and my wife in my living room he had passed. Then having to go in the freezing cold rain to his house, making the proper arrangements to take care of things. So we spent Christmas of 2015 dealing with shock, disbelief that this season looked way different than what we had planned. We didn't even get to have the funeral until after Christmas, so we just spent the time waiting, mourning of what was and what could have been.
Death comes like a thief in the night, without warning. It has no hesitation, and leaves a path of destruction that takes years to rebuild. But you can never rebuild things as they were. It's always different. You have to find a "new normal". But what is normal? Is there ever a normal? That is a hard question to answer because for most, it's easy to look at others and imagine you see "normal". I'm sure before you read this blog post, you imagined that my life too seemed "normal", especially because I'm a Licensed Counselor. But the truth is, with my life as well as your's, that we all grieve. We all hurt. We all experience pain and suffering. But we DON'T have to succumb to the identity that we will always be in pain. That we will always hurt. We can overcome. We can get through.
I play music, and have been for some time now. I play on our worship team for church, and occasionally play other gigs in town. In the music scene, it's a given that there will be mess-ups. But here is the important nugget of wisdom: "It's not about how you mess up, but about how you recover". There is so much truth to that statement! In life, we all experience negative things and events. That's a given. But it's about how we recover. Yes, you can say, "well I'll never recovery from the death of a loved one". While that may be true, you can still find purpose in the new season. You can still have hope that one day, even though things won't be the same, they will be "OK".
For me, I have to find purpose in the pain. This season in particularly hard in my life because not only did I lose an aunt to a heart attack earlier this year, but my grandfather, who basically raised me as his own, was diagnosed with stage 4 oral cancer a few months ago. He is in pretty bad shape, and has been doing chemotherapy and radiation, which is taking a toll on his body. It's hard to sit and watch him struggle so much to hang onto life, and at the same time be thrilled and happy about the holiday season. It's HARD. It's NOT EASY. But I have to believe that there is purpose behind it. I have to know that no matter what happens, we will be able to move on, to get by. I have to focus on the here and now, not worry about tomorrow.
In the Bible, Jesus says: "That is why I tell you not to worry about every day life-whether you have enough food or drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. they don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your Heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" (Matt. 6:25-26)
My take away from this passage is this: we have to worry about nothing and be thankful for today. Today is all we have. We don't have tomorrow nor do we have yesterday. We have to find meaning and purpose for today. Because today is all we have. So, my encouragement for you, as is for myself, is to focus on today. Find something positive today, and think about that. Yes, we all have plenty of negative things we can think about, but we can choose to think about one positive thing. We can remember that this is a season to be thankful for what you do have, not for what you have lost....
So friends, I encourage you during this next week, take a moment and focus on at least one thing positive daily you are thankful for. Reach out to someone, and tell them you are thankful they are in your life. Don't spend this week alone. Reach out. Find someone to encourage or just talk to. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!