The Dark Side of the Holidays
By John Thurman
While I absolutely love this time of the year, there was one Christmas Season where, at least for a few moments, I thought about ending it. Much like George Bailey, the lead character in Frank Capra’s, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” I was pretty close to rock bottom. I had gone through a job loss, was renting a house from a friend, at a gracious rate, and was barely making enough to make ends meet. I was in a place where I was questioning God, my move to New Mexico, my calling to ministry, and the poor way I was providing for my family. I was overthinking about how sad, this Christmas would be because I barely had enough money to buy a tree, much less look at nice gifts for the kids. I will never forget the moment when I had a breakthrough, and it came from one of the most unusual places.
I was at a red light listening to Focus on the Family on KFLQ, Family Life Radio. I really was not paying attention to the storyline when all of a sudden Carry Underwood and Micheal W. Smith’s song, “All is Well,” began to play. As the light turned green and I started to move through the intersection the gentle lyrics and the heart-tugging melody got into my heart and head to the point where my vision was becoming cloudy because of the tears coming from a place deep inside of me. I pulled over and absorbed the lyrics.
This particular portion of the song is what helped me pull back from that dark place:
All is well all is well
Lift up your voices and sing
Born is now Emmanuel
Born is our Lord and Savior
All is well. Lyrics by Michael W. Smith and Carrie Underwood
For me, in that at that moment, it was as if the Lord was gently reminding me of his purpose and his call on my life and that He would provide for my family. Without going into detail, at least for the moment, that powerful moment of surrender slowly opened a new door of opportunity for myself and my family.
For many, the Holiday Season is not the “most wonderful time of the year.” For some of you reading this, the dark side of the holiday season is the harsh and sometimes brutal reality of the heartache of loneliness, loss of a family member or friend, the ending of a relationship as well as financial strain, depression. You may be feeling this overwhelming sense of loss and sadness as you read this. While I would never minimize your feelings, let me encourage you to hang in there. Hope is coming, help is on the way.
This morning, my wife, Angie and I were doing part of our Sunday morning routine, when I saw a promo on an upcoming segment about the rapper Logic. I was intrigued because I had seen his performance of his triple-platinum hit, “1-800-273-8255”, on this year’s MTV’s Video Music Awards show. 1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Hotline 24/7 number.
This young man has experienced some of the deep dark shadows of life, but has come through them with a sense of honest perspective and wisdom well beyond his years. The CBS reporter stated after his performance, the National Suicide Hotline calls increased by 50%. This portion of his song powerfully points the feelings of so many:
I know it, I know it, I know I’m hurting deep down but can’t show it
I never had a place to call my own
I never had a homeAin’t nobody callin’ my phone: Where you been? Where you at? What’s on your mind?
They say every life precious, but nobody cares about mine.
“I want you to be alive
I want you to be alive
You don’t gotta die today
You don’t gotta die.”
In the past three weeks, because of the type of work I do as an Employee Assistance Consultant, I have had the daunting task of consulting a couple of client organizations who lost employees to suicide. While nobody really likes discussing the topic, this is the season of the year where we see more people attempt and complete suicide, and it does not have to be that way.
Suicide is a permanent fix for what could have been a temporary problem.
With over 50,000 hours of counseling individuals, couples, and business leaders, I have shared many hours with clients trying to help them sort through the aftermath of suicide. I have also had the opportunity to be a small part of helping some make the decision to move through those suicidal thoughts, deal with their issues and go forward to lead a vibrant and rewarding life.
Let me be honest as I can here, if you are feeling suicidal, you do not have to suffer in silence, call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255. Another organization to contact is Focus on the Family.
Their number is 1-800-A-FAMILY, or visit FocusOnTheFamily.com.
If you are a Veteran, like me, and you need to reach out, call the Veteran’s Crisis Line. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online or text message 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
If you are a family member or a lost a freind to suicide, I know that the holidays can be a very tough time. Make sure that you minimize the temptation to isolate from others. You have family and friends that want to walk through this trying time of the year. Please let them.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
In closing, I want to share a verse from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah, it is found in Chapter 43 verse 2-3a.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of o
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
There is help, don’t try to tough it out on your own.
My prayer for you is you will experience Peace and a renewed sense of purpose this Holiday Season.
Jesus is the Reason for the Season, not gifts, not parties, nor anything related to the commercialization of Christmas. The baby Jesus, whom so many love, grew up an became a man. He was crucified, dead, and was buried. The third day he rose again from the dead. Jesus came to give hope to lost, sight to the blind, comfort to those who need support, and healing to those who are sick. This holiday season, I want to challenge you to think about beginning a relationship with him.
I would love to hear from you as well as some of your thoughts about this article.