Holidays are tough. They are filled with to-do lists, expectations, shopping bags, endless trips to the grocery, rushing to perfect everything for the guests that will arrive soon, packed-full parking lots, kids hyped up on sugar, etc., etc., etc. These days can often be exhausting and overwhelming. And on top of that, Christmas is a season that every loss we have experienced is more present and more painful than in any other season. Whether it be a lost job, a family member who has passed, a miscarriage, a divorce, a husband or wife who has been deployed, whatever it is for you, Christmas intensifies the weight of that loss. Those of us that sit around a table and those of us who don’t are all experiencing some type of loss and holding the pain, fear, and loneliness in our hearts. It is easy to get caught up in trying to prove ourselves when we are surrounded by family members, which can keep us from sharing these hurting parts of ourselves.
But we crave authenticity. We want to know that people get the pain, fear and loneliness that we have experienced. We want to know that we are not alone in this. Shauna Niequist says, “I believe deeply that God does his best work in our lives during times of great heartbreak and loss, and that much of that rich work is done by the hands of people who love us, who dive into the wreckage with us and show us who God is, over and over and over”. This season is filled with loss and filled with brokenness but there is also a lot of magic to it. That magic comes when we are willing to see people’s stories and love as the true gifts of Christmas. Each of us knows what it’s like to feel alone, scared, and in pain. When we are willing to share that with people, beautiful connection happens. It fills our souls and even if for just a moment, it makes us feel whole. We are reminded of the good in the world and feel a deep sense of what we have always wanted- love and belonging. When we take the risk of sharing our story or hearing another’s we give hope and are given hope. If we aren’t careful we could miss the beauty this holiday season offers. But maybe instead we will have the courage it takes to slow down, create space for rest, and to be okay with a little less than perfect. Maybe instead of sprinting around the kitchen trying to accomplish a task that “has” to be done, we can stop and turn to one another offering not just our leftovers but our whole selves, present and imperfect.
Again, in a book by Shauna Niequist she says, “People aren’t craving perfection or longing to be impressed, they’re longing to feel like they’re home. If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, no matter how small or how undone or odd they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest.
Here at Refuge, we understand that Christmas will most likely remind us all of pain and heartbreak. But I pray that what you also find is hope, connection, love, and healing. I pray that wherever you are, you will be given a sense of home in that people will stop their rushing and be present with you. And in that moment of vulnerability and connection, that you are both reminded of what is truly important and be given the gift of healing and hope that your hearts will be restored.