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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

12/14/2018  •  Caring  •  Written by Scot Bontrager

"It's the most wonderful time of the year," or so the song goes. Sometimes we find ourselves singing this song in an effort to convince ourselves that it is true, or to hide the fact that it isn't a wonderful time for us at all. 

There are many reasons why the holiday season might not be wonderful for us. Some people yearn for traditions now forgotten, others are missing a loved one who has died, and others are dreading having to deal with troublesome members of their family. If you are struggling with the holidays there are several things you can do which may help you survive "the most wonderful time of the year."

The most important thing you can do is remember that you are a beloved child of God, but you are also an adult. You matter to God, and your opinion about how you "do Christmas" matters. Give yourself permission to not do what you've always done. Traditions are here to serve us, we are not here to serve traditions (see Mark 2:27). If a tradition isn't helpful and life-giving, give yourself permission to set it aside. Setting aside a tradition does not mean abandoning it forever. Sometimes just one year of doing something different is enough to breath new life into old traditions.

Second, stay connected with people who affirm that you are beloved. Small groups, Sunday School Classes, and healthy friends are precious gifts from God. Focus your energy on being connected to people who affirm your value and life. Tell someone you trust about what is really going on with you. Your vulnerability and honesty will be helpful for you, and may help someone else deal with their own struggles.

Third, remember that sharing the love shared with you multiplies the love in the world. You are called through your baptism into ministry. What is the unique ministry God has given to you? Serving others,  makes us feel better. You can volunteer at a food pantry, sing carols at care facilities, or simply pray for those in need. Let the Holy Spirit Guide you to your unique calling.

Finally, acknowledge that other people have expectations and desires, but those desires are not commandments or demands. Grandma may expect you to come visit. Uncle Joe may desire to talk politics. Being loving towards our neighbors (and our family) means we need to recognize their desires and expectations, but that doesn't mean we are obligated to meet them. "I love you uncle Joe, but I do not want to listen to your political opinions. If you keep bringing it up, I will go outside and play with the kids," is a perfectly acceptable thing to say.

Our Service of Hope is an opportunity for you to worship the God who loves you even in your sadness, discomfort and confusion. It is a safe space for you to be vulnerable, to let down your defenses, and to let God’s love in. It is a tradition we have had for many years at FUMCR, but for most people, it is a break from the traditional mask and feigned happiness.
If you need a safe space to open yourself to God, to cry, and maybe to find someone to sit with you in your pain, we invite you to our Service of Hope.

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