The holidays are just around the corner. For some people, that thought spurs exciting memories of beautifully decorated tables filled with scrumptious meals, festive shopping trips, extended family time, brightly wrapped gifts under a tree, you know, the “Walton” kind of holiday. For others though; especially those who deal with lonliness and depression, the holiday season is a very difficult and dark time that is to be just endured rather than enjoyed ….
According to the American Institute of Stress, more than 110 million Americans take medication for stress-related causes each week, but during the holiday season, another one million people battle what experts refer to as the “holiday blues,” and many more struggle with true depression. And the suicide rates skyrocket during the holidays more than any other time ….
I am very familiar with deep lonliness and depression and the pain it holds, and must constantly battle to stay out of that pit. Two of my suicide attempts in my lifetime were at the holiday periods. Due to tramatic memories, PTSD, and being alone at the holiday, I felt so desperate that I thought I couldn’t endure another single moment ….
Depression is an emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual disorder. Something is out of balance. We bury pain instead of confronting it. We misplace trust and seek help from impotent sources. We construct walls over which no one can climb because the cost of friendship is too high. We fill the windows of our soul with emotional excuses in order to avoid dealing with people, hence dealing with the painful memories ….
The result is darkness, loneliness and missed opportunities for restoration. We don’t want to understand depression or find the treasures in that darkness; we simply want it to go away, or even worse: just simply end ….
To deal with depression, we must first come to a place of complete surrender to God and to His plan of healing, even if we cannot see or understand that plan. It’s a matter of trust and faith. God’s heart always longs for restoration ….
Many people try to understand and deal with depression on a surface level; refusing to face painful experiences, difficult relationships, and the broken places where darkness lives. We look for the nearest exit, hoping to bypass transparency, because the price is just too much to pay. Emotional integrity is an essential step to dealing with depression. We must be real — before we can be right. Until we are willing to risk being transparent, we can neither understand nor effectively deal with depression, sadness, or grief during the holidays or any other time of the year….
The holidays seem to tug at the masks we carefully hold in place. And many are hiding behind masks; myself included. And being surrounded by others; those emotional buttons we desperately try to hide are brutally exposed.
We may be trying to hide a triggering memory that can arise in a flash of a moment, leaving a trembling hand, and we cover that behind a smile …
The arrival of family members can resurrect painful issues that have never been resolved. Financial pressure opens up like a sinkhole waiting to devour us and destroy our peace. Schedules demand every ounce of energy and false expectations leave us empty and hollow. It is not supposed to be that way. However, now is the time to do something about that ….
Thanksgiving can be a time of praise … IF we choose to focus on the victories and joys we have experienced, rather than the painful past, and then find ways to share that victory and joy with others ….
Christmas can be a true celebration of fresh starts and new beginnings, IF we choose to focus on a tiny baby born in a manger, come to save us and give us true life. The light of His love can swallow up the darkness. The tender gentle hand of a loving Saviour can calm our anxious hearts and settle our fears ….
Right now, get ready for the holidays by choosing an attitude of joy, by focusing your mind on the things of heaven – not earth, and by letting God’s peace guard your heart. Remember: you are not alone, ever. Jesus reassuringly whispers to you today ~ “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU” …..
Let us pray ~
Father, I want this holiday season to one that is filled with light instead of darkness. Please help me discard my emotional masks and be real before You as well as with my family and friends. Give me the courage to be obedient to You in every holiday setting. Give me eyes to see and help those who are in need. Prepare and enable me to make this holiday season an offering of praise to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen …..