When We Don’t Feel Like Celebrating

written by Jody Slaughter

How many times have you seen one of the most popular movies of the season, “It’s A Wonderful Life?” For the many people who are grieving, fighting an illness, struggling with depression, or affected by sadness brought on by darker and colder days, it’s not the happiest of times and certainly doesn’t feel like a wonderful life.

But “It’s A Wonderful Life” can show us some ways to move through this sometimes difficult season.

Ask for help. If these months are tough for you, acknowledge your feelings and ask for help. Even though George Bailey waited until he was at the end of his rope, he did voice his need to God in prayer and asked for help. Our pastoral staff is always willing to support you through listening, caring questioning, dialogue and prayer.

Go easy on the alcohol.  Before George resorted to prayer, he went to the bar for a drink.  Not the best choice when we are struggling.  Although it may be tempting, drinking too much alcohol can send you deeper into sadness and grief. And while intoxicated, you will not have the ability to use any healthy coping skills to get you through the difficult moments.

Allow a healthy community to be a part of your season.  Once the community of Bedford Falls knew that George Bailey was in trouble, they came together and offered their resources and love. We tend to want to isolate ourselves during difficulty, but there is healing and comfort in being with people who support and empower you. Prince of Peace offers several support groups [link] where you find can find people to share your journey with.

Our Depression Support Group meets every Tuesday at 6:30 pm, except when the Depression Support Collation [www.depressionsupportcoalition.org] has a speaker at a different church. In Pastor Paul Gauche will be speaking to the “Why is God so Hard to Find”, December 12 at St. John Neumann Catholic Church from 7-8:30.

Our Grief support Group meets Mondays at 6:00 pm. December 11 and 18 we are offering a two-part series, Merry Christmas and the Broken Heart, parts 1 and 2.

Practice the spiritual discipline of celebration. Just as the community celebrated with George Bailey and his family at the end of the movie, we can also incorporate the spiritual discipline of celebration into our lives. We tend to think of celebrations as big, festive events, and there are times for those.  But, practicing this discipline is to learn how to focus and celebrate God’s goodness on a daily basis, even in the midst of suffering. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”

We can focus on God’s greatness and beauty so that we are not overwhelmed by our own difficulties. The goal is not to ignore our situation or suppress feelings, but to give balance and openness for the Spirit of God to give us a wider lens to view our life.  Habakkuk verbalizes his difficulty by naming all the things that aren’t good, he also says that God is his strength, like the strength a deer has to leap onto high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Think of the things that feed your soul and set aside time to do those things as a way to celebrate.  Read about people who have been resilient and faithful in hardship.  Find small ways to celebrate everyday blessings.  You may find the traditional celebrations are different as you practice this discipline.

One such way to celebrate the lives of those we have lost is by participating in the Service of Remembrance. This will be on December 9, Saturday, 7pm in the Worship Center. While it is certainly not a festive service, it is a time to reflect on God’s goodness through our loved one and celebrate the ways God provides for us in our loss.

We all go through difficult seasons.  Allow yourself to know God’s presence and provision through sharing in this community of faith and looking for ways to celebrate God’s goodness each day.

Jody Slaughter is the Spiritual Care Minister for Prince of Peace.

 

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