Homework was done, dishes were washed and put away, and we were enjoying an evening of relaxation watching our favorite television shows. Glancing around the room at my children stretched out in their favorite spots, soothing feelings of peace and contentment filled my world. As with any new home I settled into, I surveyed the room for the perfect spot for the Christmas tree. In that split second contentment faded into heartache.
Even in the worst of times the holidays had always been a source of joy. They provided a sense of continuity and steadfastness not found elsewhere in much of my adult life. I suppose I had taken the joy and security of my upbringing for granted. As a child my holidays had always been marked with warmth, love, and laughter. I had no idea that many others merely existed lost, lonely, and hurting. Still others lived in a state of indifference having not ever known anything other than what they perceived as normal.
During the holidays things are projected as being complete and whole, and as a family we were torn and incomplete. So much uncertainty clouded our world, and the holiday season seemed only to compound the pain. My perspective on what I had always expected from the holidays was about to radically transform. Looking back it was an invaluable experience that I honestly would not change. I would never wish to relive it, but I am truly thankful for having made the journey through it. This season I would move beyond a shallow, child-like expectancy, dependent upon circumstances and things, to a much deeper level of joy independent of anything this world has to offer.
As you will see, I muddled through it with a newfound perspective that difficulties in life often produce the richest treasures. I made decisions, many of which were still driven by an attempt to please a man for whom I thought I felt something resembling love. I was, however, making progress…slow, steady progress. My fractured world someday would heal with only a few pale scars to serve as reminders of lessons learned. However my heart will forever be drawn to those who are facing a less than perfect holiday.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you with a thankful, grateful heart for all You have done for me. I also come bringing all who have taken the time to read this today. For those dealing with loss, I pray for restoration. For those dealing with loneliness, I pray for Your presence. For those dealing with hunger, I pray for food. For those dealing with pain, I pray for healing. For those dealing with emptiness, I pray for the filling of Your Spirit. For those dealing with hatred and bitterness, I pray for Your love and forgiveness. For those dealing with sadness, I pray for joy. For those dealing with anxiety and exhaustion, I pray for peace and rest. For those dealing with hopelessness, I pray for purpose. For those dealing with feelings of worthlessness, I pray for the revelation of their immeasurable, priceless value in Your eyes. For those imprisoned by addictions, I pray for the chains of addiction to be broken. For those held back by fear, I pray for power, might and a sound mind. For those who lack, I pray for plenty. For those who are lost, I pray for salvation. For those who are indifferent, I pray for compassion. I thank You that You hold the answers to all needs, and that You hold each of us in the palm of Your capable, loving hands. In Jesus’ precious name I pray, Amen.”