For many people, this year has been somewhat of a blur. Perhaps you yourself are in need of some clarity and encouragement, especially as we head into the winter season of this year.
I wonder how you are feeling about it all right now, how life is for you? If I think of my own life, and my circle of friends, I know that people are in very different places in themselves. While we’ve all had this common situation of a global pandemic as the backing track of 2020, for some people, the volume has been turned up loud and they’ve been unable to find the means of turning it down, while for others, it is an inconvenient and annoying hum in the background of their life as they press ahead with their own dreams, goals and plans somehow.
I can think of friends who have had ups and downs this year. They’ve had some positives but also some hard times. Some among us have had to spend months at a time on our own with no human or animal contact, while others have flourished this year and some have recently had new additions to their families with babies being born this month. One friend has become a dad for the second time, and another has become an uncle for the first time! Others that I know have embarked upon new relationships or got married or still managed to fit in a travel adventure here and there. Yet at the same time, some have seen their mental health struggles continue or worsen, some have had job uncertainty and experienced loneliness. And while we head into the Christmas season, a season of Advent in which we look towards the first Coming of The Lord Jesus Christ, Who Himself was Born into inhospitable, frightening and unsettling times (and for many, myself included HE alone is the Hope and Light in the darkness), are welcomed to enter into relationship with Him now and know the tangible Peace and Love of His Presence (and look forwards to the certainty of His Return) this time can be particularly difficult in magnifying the differences and difficulties among and between us.
It is a time of year when the nights grow longer, darker and colder. It is a time of year when at any other time, the contrasts between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ would still be stark. Yet in this pandemic year, we face all sorts of added challenges. There are restrictions upon our meeting, upon our usual ‘festivities’ and some families, in fact many families are sadly facing loss and loneliness on a number of fronts. Financially, many may be suffering or struggling to make ends meet, and loneliness has become an epidemic of its own.
If this year has been a bit of a blur for you and you have a sense of dread about this season, my eternal hope is that you will look to the Light and Transforming Love of Jesus Christ Who came into the darkness….for you.
And while that is always, I hope, the heart of my message, I know that there are many among you who want or need to take that message at your own pace and time, and in the meantime want some solid practical day to day encouragement, and I understand and respect that.
Don’t let the year end without taking time to acknowledge what you have come through, and what you have accomplished. You may never win an award for it, no one may ever think it worth reading in a newsletter, but if you know it is something meaningful to you then take time to acknowledge and even celebrate it.
You don’t need to have contributed to the discovery of a vaccine or raised a lot of money for worthy causes to feel you have accomplished something this year. Perhaps your accomplishment is to have got out of bed each day, to have given time and attention towards your mental health and wellbeing, to have continued working to support yourself and / or your family, to have stayed indoors and kept other people safe, to have been kind and considerate towards those around you, to have lived a quiet life, to have read a book, kept your living space tidy, started therapy, come off medication, admitted you need help, reached out to a friend, donated to charity, encouraged other people, encouraged yourself, put time towards a hobby, attended online church for the first time, or been consistent in doing similar, to have checked in on your neighbours, to have sought the good and wellbeing of other people, to have not given up on yourself or your life.
Achievements or accomplishments can look very different to each of us. But sometimes the small things are the things that matter in a big way.
Why don’t you give yourself that encouragement and take a few moments now, or this week, or in this season as we approach the end of the year to write down or think about a few things which you have done this year, whether or not you think you’ve done them well.
Encourage yourself, and look forwards with hope and perhaps even vision in what may be a joyful, or an extremely painful and difficult season for you.
You matter. A Light shines for *you*, a Love has come, for *you*. You matter. Give yourself some encouragement, friend, because you matter too.