A little over a year ago, I was traveling in Brazil with a great group of sophomores. While debriefing about the day’s events, I received a text from a student in the States who asked if I’d spoken to another student to whom I was and still am quite close. At that point I hadn’t, and was unsure of the nature of that forthcoming conversation, though it seemed serious. To my surprise and horror, it was much more serious and unnerving than I’d imagined: one of my students committed suicide.
When I was in high school, I used to cut myself. Sad. Angry. Bored. Blasting Brand New, The Used, My Chemical Romance, or another popular screamo band, I’d take the blade I kept hidden in a little tin box and press it firmly against my right wrist or thigh until streams of blood appeared. This was more than a call for attention or a bonding activity between me and my friends. This was an outward expression of some serious internal pain—a pain I could not quite understand, but certainly recognized. I didn’t know where this pain originated or why, but I knew what I felt was real, and I hated anyone who invalidated those feelings. No one understood: not my parents, not my sisters, and not even some of my best friends at the time. I felt lost. I felt alone. And that pain became more and more unbearable.
I love the holiday season! It’s a time when folks can go home, reconnect with family and friends, and reflect on both the challenges and blessings of the season.
But with so much happening in the world, it’s also pretty easy to see how and why the holidays can be a time filled with great sadness and pain. It can be a time when people don’t feel cared for or loved. A time when people feel lonely, poor, discouraged, inadequate, and depressed. We get so bogged down by the negatives and the crazy cards that life can often present that we lose sight of what really matters, we lose hope and faith in ourselves and the world around us. We forget about our own well-being and the well-being of others. Don’t.
You may not feel loved, but you are because I love you.
You may not feel wealthy, but you are wealthy with the riches money can’t buy.
You may feel lonely, but you’re not for He is always with you.
You may feel inadequate, but you were made in His image and are destined for greatness.
Don’t give up or let this holiday season get you down– let it build you up instead.
And if you ever feel like you’re by yourself and need someone to talk to, someone to bring you good tidings or give you peace, comfort, and love, I’m here for you.