Holiday stress comes in so many forms. I have been thinking about loneliness.
Loneliness is best discussed with the help of a book that I love: Beloved, by Henri Nouwen. (Referral link.) If this is a particularly difficult subject for you, please read it! It is beautiful.
Over the holidays – there are those who are so busy, they have no time and are desperate for a little solitude.
Then there are those who have so much time and so little human interaction that they they are swamped in the sorrow of their loneliness.
For the first group – I highly recommend having a strong “no” (and in that, say yes to yourself!) You don’t have to do every event. Sit down, choose what most lines up with your values, and do those things. And very kindly, say “Oh thank you so much, but no thank you!” to everything else. It is ok! I am giving you permission.
For the second group – I highly recommend having a strong yes! Yes to offers, yes to thoughts that God may give you (like pray for this person, and invite this person…) Say yes to creativity! Say yes to gratitude! Say yes to loving everyone who comes across your path!
And for everyone. We all experience a little loneliness over the holidays. The holidays are a time of high expectations – we want to be fully loved, fully known, and fully understood. No human can do that for us! And we can’t do that for anyone else. This is where those of us with faith can lean in and be known fully by our God. And the holidays are a very appropriate time for that!
While we can’t fully understand others, or be fully understood by others – we can love others, and be loved by others.
I leave you with this: love people. Love and accept their good parts and not so good parts. Accept their love in return – even if it isn’t exactly what you want or need. And celebrate a God who fully knows, fully sees, and fully understands.