Just sitting down to write this post nearly brings me to tears.
Because I see you. Not with my eyes, but in my heart. I see you sitting alone, trying to gather the courage to go to that holiday gathering. I see you around the table with family – one chair empty.
And it’s not just the chair that’s empty – your heart aches empty, too.
Could I quickly share a little of my story with you?
She Should Be Here
Before our son was born, my husband and I fostered (and hoped to adopt) a beautiful baby girl. From 2 days to 21 months old.
And then we lost her. Into a heartbreaking family situation.
It was the end of August 2010.
And then came the holidays. And they come every. single. year. And although in subsequent years God has given us a sweet (biological) son, and now a precious daughter via adoption? And even though this season holds great joy for us now?
I still ache for her. Every year.
She should be here, making pumpkin-chocolate-chip messes in the kitchen with my son. Helping decorate our tree. She should be part of our family.
She should be —
And though I trust God — His heart, His plan, both for us and for her — the loss of our sweet girl still feels so very unfair. Still aches empty in my heart, especially at this time of year.
On Living Wide Open and Being Held
I share all that to say this:
Friend, if you’re hurting this holiday season? It’s okay to hurt.
If it’s been years and you feel like you should be “over it” and maybe you’ve even been told to get over it? It’s still okay for the emptiness to feel raw at times.
Because God never leads us through pain apart from a corresponding invitation to intimately experience His nearness.
And in this season, while you ache, this is His heart for you: Live wide open.
Don’t close your heart. Don’t allow numbness to set in – because to be numb to pain is to be numb to joy. And God has joy for you, friend.
It may come in tiny blips at first. Embrace it as it comes. Smile. Laugh. Play goofy games and eat good food and give gifts and hugs and enjoy your loved ones.
And when the ache feels acute? Don’t run from it.
Cry if you need to. Be honest and brave. Entrust your heart to a few close ones by allowing them to simply be present with you in the aching.
There’ll be times when your heart isn’t handled well by those who love you. Intentions are good, but we humans are sometimes ignorant when it comes to handling each others’ hurts.
When people fail to compassionately hold our hearts? God extends to us the most precious of invitations:
Beloved, let Me hold you.
Be gut-wrenchingly honest before Me. Entrust the depths of your pain to Me. Your raw authenticity before Me is the sweetest fragrance to My heart, and this ache is where I’m inviting you into intimacy.
So give yourself permission to just be before Him, friend.
Live wide open.
Let your emotions be what they are, from moment to moment, and allow others into them. Especially Him. There’s no greater gift you can offer – to others or to your Father who loves you – than your authentic heart.
Healing will come. Joy will emerge from this dark season: increasing laughter-filled moments and an embracing of life. Because Jesus in you is your ultimate Source of joy.
But for this season? Bravely accept His invitations to intimacy. Live wide open. Embrace authenticity before Him.
God will hold your heart so tenderly while you do.
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“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” -Matthew 5:4