Sore Spots that Ache at Christmas

Photo: ‘Tough Times’ by Ben White on Unsplash

Photo: ‘Tough Times’ by Ben White on Unsplash

I love a good Christmas movie.  This year I decided to spend some time checking out some of the new releases on Netflix. I typed ‘Christmas’ into the search box and one of the first movies that popped was a 2017 Netflix Original production called ‘Christmas Inheritance.’  The synopsis reads: ‘Before she can inherit her father’s company, a young heiress is sent to a small town where she learns the value of helping others.’  It was 2am and my brain was tired so I decided to go for it.

One of my best things about walking by faith is that I know that God is always leading me, especially when it come to random, middle of the night moments of discovery.  Overall, the movie is a sweet, standard Christmas movie.  Just as the caption promised, the young heiress, Ellen Langford travels to the small town where her parents grew up and she does in fact discover what Christmas is really all about.

I was quite a bit into the movie when I said, ‘Lord, why am I watching this?’  A short while later, I received my answer when Ellen walks over to her new friend Jake who asks her why she decided to come back. She replies:

‘Even though there are some things that you can’t get over, maybe it’s easier if you’re not alone. If you’re with someone that you trust.’

This was worth the whole movie for me. What a great line and a powerful truth.  I think one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my healing journey is that I would often expect myself to somehow find the solution, or the ‘cure’ for my condition, especially if I was battling through a spell of extreme discouragement and struggle. I often thought that my breakthrough would be in the next chapter, podcast, or sermon and often that was true, but the reality is - there are somethings that we make it through that are so terrible, you can’t just ‘get over’ them.  And no matter how far you’ve progressed in recovery, there remains a sore spot that will always ache if disturbed.

It’s just the reality of life in this broken world.  The line from the movie reminded me of something that Robin Williams said, “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone.  It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”  

It’s so important that you make sure not to isolate yourself if you’re going through a season of discouragement and especially if you’re feeling despair.  If you’re going through it right now, I pray that you will reach out to the safe people in your life and let them know you need prayer.  Let them know that you’re hurting and give them the chance to come alongside you through this time of struggle. 

Christmas can be an especially painful time for many people.  I’m sorry for what you’ve been through and  I pray that you’ll believe that God is with you.  He will strengthen you and carry you through.  Please don’t give up hope.  If you don’t have any safe people that you can think of right now, I pray you’ll call the Somebody Cares Helpline or 800-273-8255.

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Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

If you’re reading this and you suspect that someone you know may need encouragement, please do take the time to reach out.

 

Choose Hope

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One of my very best friends was devastated. She’d hoped against hope, she’d prayed, planned, studied, worked hard at two jobs while seeking a job that she loved in her field. Year after year this continued until finally it happened - She got the job! A new office, a new team - endless possibilities. I rejoiced for her, thanking God for answered prayers and blessing!

Three weeks later, they fired her.

The funding fell through and her position was dissolved. She was beyond disappointed, she was devastated and tempted to despair. As I prayed for her and reached out to encourage, I was reminded of so many times where I’d been where she was. And through it all, one thing remained: Through it all - God is faithful, constant and He is good. This world is full of uncertainty, but the gift of faith - is faith.

During my boxing training some years ago, my Coach Greg Young used to tell me, ‘You’re overthinking. You can’t think your way through a fight. You train hard, consistently, and you focus. In time, you’ll find it’s all instinct.’ Faith is just like this, you train hard and well and in time, even when you’re knocked down for the count, you always know it’s just the count…

I've learned that it's always good to remember, when you're facing a challenge that knocks the wind out of you, and you're tempted to choose despair, use whatever energy you have to choose hope.

Faith is faith, even when things get blurry.

You will get through this: Stronger, Wiser, Bolder, Better. You’re on your way to something great. Rest well, but never give up. And as you recover from whatever it is, I pray that you will choose faith.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. - Romans 15:13

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Join the ‘Quest for Joy ’ and share your thoughts and lessons learned about choosing hope!

Make Time

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I’ll never forget that morning, it was September 11th, 2016.  I woke up, put my feet on the floor, rose to a standing position and instantly lost consciousness - falling forward with a thud.  I awaked to discover that I was lying on the carpet, staring straight at the floorboard. Our apartment bedroom was small and I was two inches away from cracking my skull on the bottom corner of the door jamb.    

 You would think something like that would slow me down right?

 Nope! I got right up.  I remember thinking, “Wow, that was weird!  But, I’m ok!” 

I shook it off, brushed my teeth and went downstairs to make my 1st cup of coffee.  When my husband and sons woke up a couple of hours later to begin getting ready for church, I casually shared, “You know the weirdest thing happened this morning. I got out of bed and I passed out.”   They looked shocked, but I assured them I was ‘just fine.’  And on we went on with our day.

The next day, my Morning Show co-host Karl must have noticed something was different because as soon as he saw me, he said, “Juni, are you alright?”  Can you guess what followed?

 “Of course! I’m fine!” I beamed.  He didn’t look convinced. 

Our primary topic at the start of each hour was concerning the many 9/11 memorials in honor of loved ones lost on one of the saddest days in North American history.  But that wasn’t the only headline - strangely enough, Hillary Clinton also passed out that day while waiting for her ride after attending a memorial ceremony.

By early afternoon on Tuesday, September 13th, I was in the emergency room because of exhaustion and dehydration.  As I laid there with my IV, I remembered the events of the previous week: A prayer-walk across downtown Chicago with hundreds of others crying out for healing of the plague of escalating violence in our city.  Culminating into a gathering of thousands to discuss what we could each do to unite and fight back the darkness. 

Lying there, still and quiet for the first time that year, I considered the facts:  I’d been suppressing heartache every single day as I worked overtime while downplaying my grief over my mother’s death. On top of that I was trying to process incomprehensible bad news I’d received about my husband and his extended family.  

The months leading up to that day are best described as a kind of Sorrow Tsunami that started building about 10 thousand miles offshore, and when it came crashing into my soul, my body simply gave out. The problem was, my mind didn’t.  You see, I can be quite stubborn. If you’d asked me then, I’d shake it off and say, “You know me, I’m determined, committed, tenacious, resolute!”  

If you ask me now, I wholeheartedly admit that my decisions then were nothing but foolish, proud, and dangerous.  What was I thinking? 

Wisdom comes from some of the most beautiful places.  The inspiration for this blog for example came from my son, Elijah.  He’s blessed with a wonderful AS* mind that enables him to naturally ‘think different.’  Recently after returning from an especially stressful, 7th grade school day, He asked me to pray with him and we did. Then we held each other for a bit before he said,

 “I’m going to my room to take a nap,

I need time to be sad today.”

 

There’s not much more I need to share about this. His statement says it all. 

 My prayer for you today is that you will decide to be determined, committed, tenacious and resolute about rest. 

Make time to be sad, right now if you need to and be blessed because you are beloved.

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For more encouragement on the topic of making time, consider what the Bible says in the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verses 1-11.

Join in the ‘Quest for Joy ’ and share your thoughts and lessons learned about courageous rest!

*ASD – Autism Spectrum Disorder, but I don’t use the word, ‘Disorder’ when describing my son’s beautiful mind cause he ain’t nothing but a blessing! XD