Luke 2:8-11 – And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, face masks were lined up next to presents and snacks. Silence filled the air save for a cough and a sneeze and a tossing and turning in bed. The children had cried until their bodies gave way to sleep for, they feared that Santa wouldn’t come down their chimney because COVID had entered their house. But up in the sky many years ago a star shone out with no thought for how well the humans below felt. The angel appeared to the shepherds with their good news which did not depend on any calculations of new cases of COVID or any other disease. For One had been born who would wipe away tears and heal the hurting and broken hearted. This Christmas, stars will shine in the sky and songs will be heard among the breezes as many will celebrate the birth of the Savior in spite of all the sickness that lay below. May this Christmas find you remembering the true meaning of Christmas and the One who came to heal the sick and broken hearted and gladden hearts with hope. And hope is truly the one thing we are all looking for this Christmas above all others. May God fill your homes with love and comfort and may joy rise up in the hearts of you and yours this Christmas.
Luke 2:8-10 – And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
For many people, the Christmas season can be difficult.
And perhaps it’s Christmas 2020 and you are suffering from COVID Christmas depression.
Things will certainly be different this year.
As silly as this may seem - What if your children ask you about Santa Claus and wonder if he come down the chimney this year with everybody so sick?
All of these are valid reasons to feel a bit blue. But let’s back track the thoughts above and brainstorm what we could do to help bring joy to your Christmas.
You don’t have to let COVID bring with it Christmas depression. There are many ways there can still be joy this Christmas. And fun ways to make new memories.
Mayoclinic.org in their article, “Stress, Depression and the Holidays: Tips for Coping,” provides us with more ideas on coping with depression such as reaching out to others if you are lonely or isolated. Many churches and community centers have ways to help you feel like you’re not alone. In addition, be realistic. Realize that Christmas will indeed be different this year, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing as I wrote above.
Take a look at the Bible verses above. The shepherds were afraid when they saw the angel but they didn’t have to be afraid because they were given the best news they’d heard before and they were filled with joy. Don’t be afraid this Christmas to find the joy even if you’re afraid of what this COVID Christmas will look like.
Key words: COVID, Christmas depression, difficult Christmas, unique ideas for Christmas, make new memories
Galatians 6:4, 5 - Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.
When people talk about an unpleasant situation, some can always find that silver lining. But the rest of us. Well. When something unpleasant is happening, we don’t just see the glass half empty. We can’t even see that a glass exists in the first place!
No matter what may be happening, good or bad, the pessimist always looks at the bad and can’t believe that things will ever work out. They believe if we don’t expect that something good will happen then we won’t be disappointed.
A lot depends on our past experiences. As children, we learn quickly whether we’re one of the “cool” kids or someone that gets stomped on.
As adults, pessimists try to overcompensate for their lack of “coolness” by finding shortcuts, cheating and lying their way through believing that they’ll get the next promotion instead of their coworkers. Pessimists still try to achieve that fame which will make them look cool. But they never quite get there. And this coping mechanism turns into pessimism.
It’s here that the pessimist learns to lower his expectations in life. After all, if we don’t expect that something good will happen then we won’t be disappointed. Right? I don’t think so.
Even in the dark valley of our broken hearts there still beats a longing for a different outcome in life. So how does one drop the pessimism and transform into an optimist?
First, let’s go back to the food chain and see what we can learn -- Even at the bottom of the food chain there’s still that silver lining. Pessimists discover that they’re not the only one down there. They learn that together they’re not a disappointment after all. And they don’t have to cheat and lie their way to the top.
Next, we can learn that it’s never too late to turn our life around. It may hurt when disappointment greets us at the door, but it doesn’t mean that it has to permanently live with us. Don’t drop your expectations. Believe that good is just around the corner. Keep your eyes and ears open looking for how you can grow through the situation.
Third, be aware of the affect other people can have on your attitude. There’s power in those pessimistic friends of yours. Have you ever noticed that when you’re around a pessimist that pretty soon you’re riding the same train to that cloudy sky?
Forth, get some help. There’s no shame in admitting we can’t get through a bad situation alone. Instead of worrying how bad you might look to your boss, ask for help. He might surprise you by commending you for not being afraid to get his advice. This will show him that you’re in it for the long haul.
Psychologytoday.com also sheds some like on the problem of becoming an optimist instead of a pessimist in their article, “Becoming an Optimist – How to Turn Away from the Dark Side.” The article suggests that when you find yourself saying something negative, think of something positive to say and search for positive aspects of negative situations.
Take a look at the Bible verses above. Stop comparing yourself to others. Just do the best you can do in a situation. If you give your best and turn the outcome over to God, he will surely make a way for you to carry your load and to carry it well. Don’t just see the glass half-empty or half-full. Your glass is always ready to become a full glass and to turn you from a pessimist into an optimist. And you will soon believe that if you do expect something good to happen, we don’t have to worry that we’ll just be disappointed. Learn to see the good.
Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
We’re driving down the road of life when
Someone runs into us from behind. It’s those memories of the past that keep chasing us down.
Someone who’s right in front of us stops his car and keeps us from believing we have a future.
This moment causes us to leave the path set out before us and we simply turn off the car.
But then another car pulls up beside us. The driver gets out of his car, opens the passenger side of the car, and invites us to come in.
That driver’s name is hopefulness. And he’s come to drive us off the road of hopelessness by giving us a hopeful chance to return to the road set before us even if everything seems bleak around us.
Ideas.ted.com in their article, “How to be more Hopeful,” we get a glimpse inside ways to turn your hopelessness into hopefulness. Their ideas include shifting your expectations. When you wake up in the morning don’t focus on thinking it’s going to be another blah day. You will help make a self-fulfilling prophesy about your day. Instead, think of a few brief pleasurable moments that you can reach. Small steps. Also, realize you can change your life at any point. There are possibilities that exist for you at any stage of your life no matter how old you are. Have a dream in the back of your mind? Taking a small step toward that dream can lift off the negative hopelessness and turn it into hopefulness.
So, let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. If you don’t feel like you have a race ahead of you, create one. Imagine in detail of how your race would look like and take small steps toward it. Perseverance is the key if you want to move off that hopeless road and drive toward hopefulness.
Matthew 6:27 – Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Depression and worry keep you from engaging with life because you have a constant state of preoccupation with your fears.
You’re always thinking
You’re in a constant state of adrenaline rush chasing you in a race you can’t win.
What you must do is stop. Stop that depressive and anxious thought right at the moment it begins. If you don’t, the thoughts will take away all of your energy and keep you from doing the things you need to do.
“But my fears are real,” you say. “It really could happen. I could end up out of control.” But you were never really in control before you felt depressed and worried about life. We all think that we can control our life. But no one can.
And through it all, while you’re busy stuck in fear and depression, life keeps rolling by without you.
In psychologytoday.com’s article, “Withdrawn and Inactivity Feed Depression,” some suggestions on how withdrawl and inactivity can feed depression which can keep you from engaging with life are set small goals. Large goals can seem too far out of reach so start small and set yourself up for small wins. Another suggestion is to develop awareness about your choices. If you’re able to, try to develop an awareness of your choices and where they lead. For more of their ideas read the whole article. Even setting yourself the goal of reading someone’s ideas on depression and worry can keep you engaged with life.
Starting out with small decisions can help you take that next step in your day and then another step. All of a sudden you will see that you met your first small goal helping you engage with life again.
Nehemiah 2:2 – So the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid.
It had been a good day.
It started out with a trip to the grocery store to pick up some things for a dinner I was preparing for family who were coming over that evening. Once home, I took a once over again of the house to make sure it was tidy. Then it was off to the kitchen to start the meal.
The meal turned out just right. I was happy with it and so was my family. At dinner, we all conversed freely and spoke of funny things my grandchildren had done that week as well as a possible job promotion for one of my adult children.
After dinner, everyone helped me clean up and two of them decided it was their turn to do the dishes since I had cooked the meal. This didn’t happen very often, so I gladly took the opportunity to play with my grandchildren while things were being cleaned up and put away.
Little eyes soon started to close, so their parents bid me goodbye with hugs and “I love you.”
It had been a good day and I even had a good night’s sleep.
But upon arising the next morning, I found myself not wanting to get out of bed. I shook out the cobwebs and pulled back my covers anyway.
It took me much longer to get ready to face my day than usual, but I just chalked it up to being tired from the excitement of the day before. In fact, though I got out of bed I failed to change out of my pajamas and while eating my breakfast a feeling like an ache in the pit of my stomach started.
I tried to analyze what could be causing this downward feeling. As the day progressed my depression grew. I didn’t even want to call it depression because there was no reason for it. But there it was. And there it grew until my body was filled to the top with sad thoughts.
How did I depression sneak up on me after a good day? Could it be that I was already depressed and didn’t know it because I was so busy preparing for my family dinner? Perhaps depression hit me harder the next day, because there were no busy preparations that needed to be done. It was just an ordinary day.
Webmd.com can shed some light on why depression can sneak up on you even after a good day. In their article, “10 Signs of Depression That Can Sneak up on You,” provides us with some signs that can stop a depression spiral such as regular, everyday care and maintenance starts to drop out. On the day after the family visits you may not feel like brushing your teeth or changing out of your pajamas. Another sign is you feel guilty. You may feel like you’re a failure because you can’t get your act together and get ready for work. You may not feel like you don’t want to go to work. This sign can also happen, it’s really hard to focus. You may head to the bathroom to get your laundry to wash but don’t get past wanting to return to bed.
This part of the list of signs of depression that can sneak up on you, I experienced. By reading the rest of the list, you may find a picture of yourself. Try not to feel guilty about what you’re experiencing. It’s not your fault. You’re doing the best that you can with what you have.
You may wonder if you should even plan events like a family dinner. You may doubt that you can get through. Plan the dinner. Don’t second guess yourself. You may feel your depression stronger the day after you had such a good time but knowing what’s going on can go a long way in stemming the tide of depression’s storm.
If you look at the Bible verse above, you can see that even people in that time had depression. In this case, Nehemiah was showing signs of depression. Thankfully though Nehemiah was sad, the king took pity on him. God will help place people around you, even those who may be above you like your boss, to help ground you to stop melting into guilt. Push aside the guilt and find the courage to stand before others regardless of what they think of you. God loves you and wants to comfort you. Let him do so. It can make a difference in stopping depression’s spiral even after a good day.
1 Kings 19:4 – While he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
There are things that happen in our lives that take away our joy.
Sometimes things happen and we give up on life.
And if we’re not careful, we don’t want to live anymore.
Suicide. It’s not something that’s discussed. It’s like a hidden secret which wants to stay hidden. But we must not just be vigilant about how we are feeling, but also those around us.
I’ve been at this place before.
I’ve experienced so much physical and emotional pain that I’ve felt I don’t have any strength left to go on.
Let’s take a look at some of the warning signs of suicide on save.org in their article titled, “Warning Signs of Suicide.” The article lists many warning signs and a few of them are talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself; looking for a way to kill oneself, talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose, and talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the Lifeline (USA) at 1-800-273-8255 or text SIGNS to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free crisis counseling.
Though it may not feel like it, suicide is not the only way out of depressing and morbid thoughts. A prophet in the Bible also felt depressed and had morbid thoughts. He’d just had a great victory, but it was followed by being chased by his enemy and asking God to just end his life. God was compassionate to the prophet and he will be compassionate to you, too. Seek out the Lord and he will reveal to you the true blessings and a purpose to make your life feel worthwhile again.
Another way to bring back joy in your life is to give to others. The following is a link where you can donate unused reward miles and points: https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/how-to-donate-unused-rewards-miles-points-1263.php
Psalm 29:11 – The Lord will give strength to his people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.
There are days when it feels likes the sun won’t rise. We know that it will, but from all of the turmoil we’ve been faced with recently, we experience emotional exhaustion and it’s difficult to get past it.
They say things come in threes but sometimes we’re bombarded day-after-day. So, the dreary days of the heart press us toward a place we don’t want to be.
Some winding roads of the soul keep us circling the drain. We try to reach out for the faucet to pull ourselves out, buy our hands are slippery and we keep falling.
This is what emotional exhaustion looks like:
But there is hope:
So how do we get from the negative exhaustion and into the light once more? Let’s look at a few more ways to end emotional exhaustion. Healthline.com, in their article, “Emotional Exhaustion: What it is and how to Treat It,” makes some valid points. The article first gives a description of what emotional exhaustion looks like such as accumulated stress or feeling trapped. The article also gives us symptoms of it such as lack of motivation and feelings of hopelessness, what causes emotional exhaustion such as financial stress and poverty, and how to treat emotional exhaustion such as eliminating the stressor, eating healthy, exercise, getting enough sleep, and practicing mindfulness where you focus on what’s happening in the moment such as deep breathing and paying attention to your surroundings.
Emotional exhaustion can be treated, and the gloom lifted off our horizon. There’s other strength we can find in the Bible verse above. God is the one who can give us the strength we need. He will bless us with his peace.
So the next time you find emotional exhaustion playing havoc with your life and stealing much needed peace, read the suggestions above and try a new one until you find your, “to go to,” step to find rest and peace once more.
Luke 2:16 – So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in a manger.
Luke 2:16 – So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in a manger.
As the holidays are upon us, what do you do if your family is gathering 3 hours away? It takes so much to just function and take care of the needs of your chronic pain or an extended illness.
You might be okay with having to be alone, unless your family can’t understand how you don’t muster up enough strength despite of your chronic pain.
There’s also emotional pain and loss involved. You feel yourself falling deeper into the valley of depression.
The holidays can be difficult even if you don’t have a chronic condition:
Yes, it hurts to lug the box out of your closet which holds your Christmas treasures. But you don’t feel like decorating. All you can think about is how unfair it is that you can’t gather with your family those 3 hours away.
And your chronic pain kicks up a notch as you reminisce about days gone by. You think of the Christmas’ with your little ones hanging ornaments on the lower branches of the tree. With a manger scene and the effort that it took to get everything out, you loved the memories you were making.
But what about this Christmas? What kind of memories would you make? You’d probably visit your bathroom more often caused by the extreme pain you’re in. Is it possible to feel in the Christmas mood?
First, Christmas isn’t about the decorations. It’s about focusing on Christ’s birth. He should be the center of our thoughts. This should at least make you feel grateful for the baby who would become a man and eventually die for our sins.
That’s why we lug that manger scene box out so that you can look upon it, even if no one in your family will see it. It’s about you and remembering. Is it so bad that you can’t travel? Maybe they’d give you a phone call and all say, “Merry Christmas,” to you. That would make your heart beat with love.
And don’t forget to mail your adult children money for them to put towards a Christmas gift.
Here are some more ideas on how to make Christmas a time of joy even if you battle chronic pain, on buzzfeed.com, in their article, “A Guide to spending Christmas Alone.” Some of their suggestions include: Many people are alone at Christmas but it’s okay to be alone. You can choose to do some of the traditional things you would do if you were with your family and create some new ones. Being alone may make you feel sad but create your own new Christmas traditions. Here’s some ideas: work on your hobby, eat yummy food, or binge-watch a show or movie series. Whatever you choose to do, try to not let chronic pain ruin your Christmas.
And just like the Bible verse above says. The shepherds hurried to see the baby that the angels had told them. You, too, can hurry off to see the baby. Turn on some Christmas music and if you find a song you like, turn the volume up on your CD player and sing loudly as you find yourself not so lonely anymore.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 – There is a time for everything, and an activity under the heavens.
We know that we experience different seasons: fall, winter, spring and summer. But did you know there are also different seasons in our emotional pain journey?
If we can just hang on until the next season, we can find we’ve discovered hope thus depression no longer has a hold on us. Thecut.com in their article, “How to Help Someone with Depression,” provides us examples of how we should start conversations with someone we care about that we suspect are depressed, such as using open ended conversations. “How are doing lately?” “Are you struggling with anything?” “Can I help you?” Find more ways to help someone who is depressed in the article.
If you’re the one who is suffering from depression, know that this season can pass if you keep our eyes on God and how he has been faithful to you in the past. Hang onto hope. And if your depression is a heavy load on you, seek help. Whether it be a friend who will listen to you or receiving a counseling from a therapist. This too shall pass.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.