The air is crisper. The clocks have turned back. The days have shortened. And the leaves have transitioned from greens, to golds, to rich burgundies. Fall is officially here. My favorite time of year!
But as the sun goes down faster, darkness seems to swallow up more of the sky.
I have loved ones that wrestle badly with seasonal affective disorder – a type of depression that is linked to the lack of sunlight. It doesn’t help that a few of our relatives have passed away around the holidays.
As much as my heart wants to shout, “Oh! The holidays are coming!” There are times I find myself thinking, “Oh – the holidays are coming…” This time of year certainly causes me to reflect and I can honestly find myself grieving for years past.
My parents raised my brother and I to constantly put others first. Growing up, we’d eat quickly and spend our Thanksgiving night passing out homemade meals in Central Park, NY. For Christmas my father would dress up as Santa Claus, I was his elf and we’d pass out toys to children in the projects of New York, NY.
Charity is all I knew. For years I had the privilege of working for a local charity that served thousands of individuals all year. I’ve also been honored to travel to various countries to build homes from the ground up, feed and clothe orphans, advocate for women around the world and more.
Now I find myself in chronic pain just sitting still. I’ve tried to serve the way I used to but it typically ends with me in tears. My body is struggling to adjust to my physical limitations while my mind and spirit fight it every step of the way.
Have you ever found yourself in a season a life you didn’t ask for? One you’re frightened of? Or even loathe? If so, I’ve been there – but I am grateful I didn’t stay there for long.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 -8 gives a vivid description of various seasons. "I have seen
the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful
in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart…” Ecclesiastes 3:10-11.
This new season of my life has brought great difficulties but with it a new found appreciation for what I once had. And going forward I have learned to make every morsel of happiness a feast. I am eternally grateful for that and I cannot guarantee that would have happened had it not been for my current challenges.
I bumped into an old friend that was complaining about her job. After about 40 minutes of non-stop grumbling, my mind was wandering off. I actually found myself daydreaming of the days of old.
She was upset she had to put in consecutive 10 hour work days. Lord, what I wouldn’t give to go back to work!! To have the physical ability to put in a long 10 hour day…I literally teared up as I listened. It reminded me of a quote my father ingrained in us as children.
Let me be clear: if you find yourself working a job you hate – look for a new one. Life is too short to spend time doing what you don’t love. But if you can’t change your circumstances, do your best to change your perspective.
Everyone has something to be grateful for. If that hasn’t been your experience, I suggest you write down your blessings both big and small. I prefer keeping a prayer journal. It allows me to jot down my prayer requests when I am pleading with God. But it also leaves space to list out the highlights of my day.
Recently I’ve been blessed to support a group of Puerto Ricans that were displaced by the hurricanes of 2017. These remarkable people consist of individuals that lost the roofs over their heads; men, women and children that went 12+ months without electricity and running water; and other basic necessities.
One woman described the first time she showered after the storm. She compared running water to drip drops of gold that fell from heaven. And it truly helped put everything into perspective.
The holidays can be tough but I encourage you to count every blessing.
Share the Gospel whenever you can.
Make the most of every gathering. Give back more than you take.
And may God bless you on your journey.
Let’s discuss this:
· When have you experienced a difficult season?
· How have you managed it in the past?
· If you cannot change your circumstances, how can you change your perspective?
· Intentional Holidays: 30 Days of Reflections & Rest, Wholly Loved Ministries
· Awaken: 90 Days with the God Who Speaks, Priscilla Shirer
· The Habits of Happiness Guide, Rick Warren