There’s no time like Christmas. Think about it: our culture devotes a month or more to celebrating a holiday that, even in its secular expressions, puts an immense focus on compassion, family, kindness, and so on. And of course, for Christ-followers it’s a unique time of meaningful reflection and praise.
But we’d be blowing it if we didn’t stop and remember the many people among us for whom Christmas is remarkable for what it’s lacking.
For so many people, Christmas carries with it various levels of emotional heaviness because of the absence of a loved one. Maybe you’re one of these people. Christmas is so unique in its place in our culture that it brings with it a unique kind of sadness when a loved one isn't present. The feelings of loss, and maybe even guilt, are heightened at a time when so much emphasis is put on togetherness.
As I sat down to write this post, I had second thoughts. After all, I don’t want to go all "Debbie Downer" on everyone. The mood around the ym360 Community has been so festive throughout the entire Christmas season. I was afraid that writing a post like this would bring in a sour note.
Then I remembered why I wanted to write this post in the first place . . .
As youth workers, we can’t lose sight of the fact that we’ve been given the opportunity to be messengers of God’s comfort to those we minister to.
While you might not feel particularly equipped or called to play this role, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re in the position to play it. Because of the role you play in the lives of your teenagers, your teenagers’ parents, your adult volunteers, and even your church staff, you have a platform to speak to the hurt and loss some of them might be feeling.
And for some of these people, what they could really use right now is a reminder of God’s presence. Of His love. Of His comfort and peace.
So, why don’t you stop for one second and think. Think about the events of the past year. Who among your circle of influence will experience the absence of a loved one this Christmas?
- Is it the student who had a grandparent pass away?
- Is it the adult volunteer with a son or daughter serving overseas?
- Is it a staff member who suffered a miscarriage this year?
- The family for whom this Christmas is the first one after the divorce?
- Is it the parent of a student who lost his or her mother or father?
What would it cost you to pick up the phone? Or send a text? A Facebook message or email? Better yet, a short handwritten card? Let’s be honest: it would cost you nothing. But it this small act of kindness might make a huge difference in the life of the recipient.
And don’t let “not knowing what to say” keep you from reaching out. Many of those who will feel the absence of a loved one this Christmas would love nothing more than to know that you’ve remembered their pain. Your note can be as simple as ,“I know this time of year can be bittersweet for you. I’m praying for you.” Pass along a Bible verse that has comforted you in the past. The sentiment behind this simple reminder carries more weight than you might imagine.
God’s put you where you are for many reasons. What if one of them is to speak His comfort into the lives of those who are hurting this Christmas?