It's pretty common from what I've observed, these past forty years, though nobody would seek it out intentionally and add it onto their already over-filled life plates. It's one of those things that can come in all kinds of forms and show up regularly like clock-work, or out of the blue in a way that takes your breath away. It can come from relationships, plans turned sideways, jobs lost, finances in a tangle, or betrayals of many kinds. It can come from expectations not met or no will to have expectations period, based on pains of the past. It can hit you so hard that you sink into a depression, or make you want to run from all social obligations. Pain during the holidays can load your shoulders down so that you can't focus on the Reason for the Season and you end up missing the entire point while you're left with your head down, sorting details "just to get through."
I haven't gotten to Christmas yet but our small, extended family is dealing with the pain of Alzheimers. It's hard to see that blinking at me, in black and white. If I could, I would single-handedly banish it from the planet, I hate it SO MUCH. I want my old daddy back and I don't want to see my mama hurting and being strong for all of us. I want life to be what I expected it to be and go how I expected it to go... not this... this crappy new plan. The truth is, it's often... not what we expected. Pain comes in many shapes and sizes, and sadly, we can all relate.
It made me pause and wonder.... what if... we're supposed to let pain push us toward God and into His arms during this chaotic season. What if we actually did that? What if we spent more time than normal talking to Him, thanking Him for all things good and bad, laying our troubles at His feet. Would our holiday have peace, even in a sea of questions and "not what we expected's?" If nothing else, it wouldn't hurt, right? Press in.
The truth is this; God never wastes our pain- He promises that He doesn't. He holds every tear, knows every hair on our heads and loves us unconditionally in spite of the pain we ourselves have caused! He allows the hard stuff for His reasons, not because He is an awful God who loves it when we suffer. Especially at Christmastime. We are always a part of His grand plan, a thread woven into a far bigger, more beautiful picture and the only part we can see are the tangles on the backside of the tapestry we're being worked into. I said this on Instagram last night... "Staying soft takes work but it doesn't drain us the way bitterness does and in the end, it is always worth it! I loved the verse Lamentations 3:22-24 in the Message version- "God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great is your faithfulness! I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left."
I don't know where you're at in life. Maybe you're blissfully pain-free and all your details are lining up just how you expected them to. But... if... just maybe, you're in the boat alongside me, and it's not what you expected, let's make a pact, you and I. Let's press IN. Let's press deeper than we ever have. Let's lay it ALL down at His feet and let Him do as He wants with us and within us. Someone hurt you? Pray for God's blessing over their life right now. Even if you have to grit your teeth to get the words out. Something went sideways on you? Thank God for it right now, even if your words don't match the feelings in your aching heart right this moment... ask Him to change the feelings. He has always done that for me when I've asked... sometimes it's taken a little time, but He has always been faithful.
Let's press in to HIM, and away from the pain. We've got this, because He's got us.