As the holiday season is fast approaching, I can’t help but start reflecting on the year that was. I don’t really know what it is about this time of year that makes us do this. In some ways, I feel like I’m punishing myself for all the goals left unmet, expectations not risen to and voids left unfilled. Maybe it’s the way my brain is wired or maybe it’s the way I taught myself to think without even realizing it but this time of year is not always the easiest.
I think of old family traditions amidst the brokenness of loved ones lost over the years and not being able to build on those traditions together. I think of the conflicts and years of growing apart that have ruined relationships and can’t help but fight the urge to blame myself for it all. And I think about celebrations that have become trite and forced as opposed to a joyous and meaningful way to love on our loved ones because we want to, not because we have to go through the motions of pretending.
Sure, I have my little family unit to celebrate with and together, we can and are making our own traditions together. But still…in spite of that (and maybe due to a bad attitude on my part), this time of year is just plain lonely. I miss the big family gatherings with games, laughter and way too much food. I miss hearing the sounds of people genuinely enjoying each other’s company. Those sounds seem so distant and drowned out by years of hurts, the busyness of life and skewed priorities that I, myself am just as guilty of.
So to those of you out there who hurt the most this time of year, who feel utterly abandoned and alone, who wonder where the joy of the season is…I get you. I feel you. I am you. I understand that ache in your soul that begs for January to come and the relief of another season passed and forgotten. I understand the frustration of wondering if things will ever be different and that small glimmer of hope that wonders if maybe this will be the year that things will change.
In spite of this, I also know of hope. Hope that is always there, just beneath that scarred and disenchanted surface. It’s there. In all of us. It doesn’t matter the hurts, the pain, the loneliness or how lost you feel in this flurry of activity. It’s there. Waiting to collide head-on with the speed of a modern world that demands so much of you without offering any of itself. It wants to breathe life into you even when the world is depleting you of every ounce of patience you have (especially if you’re a parent…I know you feel me on that one).
So in a season of reckless speed, unmet expectations and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gratitude, let’s hold on to what is good in our lives. Let’s not forget that once upon a time, a baby came to us in his own time and in his own way, not to steal from us but to give to us everything he had. That is the hope I cling to when life overwhelms me and when I don’t know how in this world I will get through another season of wanting what no longer exists and wishing for what might never come to pass.
Hope is powerful. Hope lives beyond expectation. Hope is eternal. Hope is for all of us. Hope is limitless.