I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t posted for a looooong time! I have been dealing with chronic pain since June, AND I am healing! Kind of a two step forward one step back experience. But the biggest drain on me in dealing with chronic pain is fatigue and fatigue sucks the creativity right out of me. So my writing has been on the back burner, nay, writing hasn’t happened since September.
Finally, yesterday, I had a break through where thoughts and feelings merge and resolve in some healthy direction. And thanks to a great friend I decided to post my thoughts today. I hope this post brings comfort to many who find their Holiday invaded with the background noise of suffering.
Christmas is nostalgic, romantic, sentimental, sacred, holy, special and yes even magical. I love the sappy musicals and movies that come with the season and I take joy in allowing myself to wallow in the festivities. But this year, Christmas comes with suffering. And I know I don’t suffer alone.
The Holiday season is statistically backed with the notes of suffering as we know that suicides and depression are at a particular high. I know of 4 families who are celebrating Christmas without a loved one in their midst for the very first time. And there are others who have lost jobs and homes, family and friends. Loss is never experienced so poignantly than in this Holy Season.
We feel ashamed at the sorrow, embarrassed by the tears, reluctant to let anyone in on our reality.
I too suffer this season. I have been healing from back pain, but not completely restored. I am healing from abusive memories, but not totally set free. I am in process. The process of grief and sorrow, of letting go so I can reach for something new. I am in the midst of the process, without the relief of arriving whole.
I want to pretend, to paint my life with a glossy finish. To sing “White Christmas” with longing and sentimental memory, just so I don’t feel the frustration of being a wounded warrior. To be in the midst of pain is disconcerting and my Christian standard for reverence and awe during Advent gets lifted ever higher and unattainable.
I arrange my many nativity sets in perfect harmony. The Mom and Dad intimately close to the babe in the impeccably clean creche. The Angel hovering above, standing guard over the holy scene. The shepherds on one side, the Wise Men on the other. The perfect Christmas without all that sorrow and suffering.
But was the Christmas story of long ago untainted by our reality of suffering? Mary had just endured excruciating months of threats to her life, stoning was customary for unwed mothers of that era. Joseph and Mary became homeless as they walked to Bethlehem and found no place to create a home, not even family in the area took them in. And grief must have accompanied every step as they found themselves alone in their belief that the son Mary carried was the promised Messiah. They were not friends with the shepherds and certainly had no knowing of the Wise Men who would be coming their way. Though others believed, they were not near to them and therefore walked an uncertain pathway on their own.
Suffering was the foundation of Christmas. Though given a promise of hope, Hope was brought to fruition through the suffering, not a part from it.
Christ entered the suffering. He not only made himself man, but made himself a weak and helpless babe; trusting eternity to two human beings wrestling their way through suffering.
And so I say to you who suffer in this Holy Season, as well as to myself.
May we allow Christ to enter our suffering and hear him weeping with us and for us.
May we allow his divinity to enter our humanity once again.
And somehow dare to believe that He would trust His message of HOPE to those of us wrestling our way through the pain.