It's the week before Christmas! We are so excited about all of the fun, festive things going on. It's the best time of the year spent with family, anticipating the joy of Christmas Day. For some, it's their first Christmas as newlyweds. For others, it may be their first Christmas with a newborn baby. Whatever it is, we know that these types of "First Christmas" are typically very special. For others, it may be your first Christmas without a loved one and the anticipation of that first Christmas without feels more like dread. Dread of how you will feel that morning waking up without that loved one you held so close to your heart. Dread of going through the motions and replacing joy with sadness.
You are who I am writing to today. I am writing to you today because I think in the midst of all of the festivities, gift giving, and preparation we forget to turn our hearts towards those who are experiencing something very new and painful for the first time.
My mother is experiencing her first Christmas without her mother this year. I know that this will not be an easy Christmas for her and I want to lean in to her specifically. I want to be more sensitive, understanding, and hug her a lot more. I want to let it go when she gets flustered. I want to just lean in to where her heart is that day. I want to wake up that morning and be present for her.
In my work we talk a lot about the beautiful state vs. the suffering state. The beautiful state represents happiness, love, peace. This state feels almost automatic because it's when things are just right. The suffering state represents depression, anger, loss. We talk about moving between those two states and making it a choice. This doesn't mean the pain disappears. This doesn't mean that grief isn't real and shouldn't be dealt with. This means allowing yourself to still enjoy life. To still look forward to beautiful things. To choose joy.
Choosing joy is not easy and often frustrating, but we can choose it. For me, this looks like shifting my focus. Shifting my eyes towards heaven and the coming of my Savior when He alone will make all things right. For me, it's choosing to look heavenward at the anticipation of the second coming.
I recently spoke with my mom about how my grandfather is handling the festivities without his wife, his better half. She was so encouraged by him because he chose to decorate their home, even though his best friend wasn't there to help him. He chose to go Christmas shopping for all of his grandchildren. He chose to send out Christmas cards signing only his name. At first, this made me so sad thinking of him doing all of it alone. But then, I was immediately filled with pride for him. He chose a beautiful state. He chose to enjoy the season even in the midst of his pain and grief. Please hear me. I am not diminishing your grief and your pain. My words are only here to offer encouragement for you in this season. We often think we can't do certain things when we can. We can do more than we could ever imagine, especially with the power and help of Jesus.
If this is you, then my prayer for you this Christmas is that you see glimmers of Christ's glory. I pray that you would have incredibly special moments with family and friends. I pray that you would enjoy the little things. I pray that you would cry when you need to cry and laugh when you need to laugh. Please know that it is Christ who mourns with us and so we mourn together. But with great anticipation and joy, we look heavenward for the second coming when all will be made right. And when you make that choice to choose joy, I pray that you would be blessed tremendously with the power to do so in that moment.
If this is a Christmas that is joyful for you this year because of so many fun firsts, I am so excited for you. I pray you make many sweet memories that last a lifetime. I ask that you lean into those around you who are dreading Christmas because of loss. Send a text, write a note or just give a hug. Whatever it is that you do, just remember that leaning in is sometimes the most powerful thing you can do for someone.
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