I recently heard it discussed that our feelings are heightened during the holidays. If we are depressed, we have the tendency to become more depressed. If we are lonely, we can feel more lonely. With the holidays, comes a myriad of feelings. Of course, there are feelings of great joy, but some of us feel the ache of holidays, too. Maybe this is the first year you don’t have a spouse by your side for various reasons. Maybe you lost your mom years ago and yet, your heart still grieves when you sit around the Christmas tree. Whatever it is, the pain is real and we still have to face it.
Our friend, Lauren Alexander, gave us some incredible insight into ways we can care for hurting hearts this Christmas. Because, truth be told, if you are hurting this Christmas, some of the very best work you could do is go and minister to those that are hurting around you.
In a world that is telling us to gather everything for ourselves, Jesus has always told us that it is better for us to focus on others. In fact, he tells us to “carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Giving really is better than receiving.
Here are five ways to practically give to those hurting this Christmas:
ONE: PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE SAYING
This requires that we put down our cell phones and listen to others. It means we pause long enough to receive insight into the people around us. Are they mentioning how quickly they hope the holidays go by? Have they suggested they are nervous for any upcoming festivities? Let’s be good listeners to those in our community and take mental note in hopes to help those we love.
TWO: MEET A NEED
No need to go on Pinterest and scour the internet for hours. Instead, let’s meet needs the old-fashioned way. If you feel as though someone simply needs a hug, why don’t you be that for them? Many people that are grieving are also missing the touch of those they love. If someone asks for prayer, why don’t you stop and pray with them? Gather their hands in yours and show them you love them by approaching the God of the universe together.
You can also leave a meal on a porch (be sensitive to their time). Drop off a card. Venmo someone money for a coffee. The options are endless.
THREE: ASK PEOPLE TO CHURCH
This idea is one that may feel taboo these days, but what could be better for someone’s soul than to be ushered into the presence of God’s beloved, the Church? Research shows that eighty-two percent of the unchurched are likely to attend church if a friend, co-worker, neighbor or family member invites them. Perhaps we need to pause on this response. Perhaps we need to restate it. More than eight out of 10 of the unchurched said they would come to church if they were invited.
When you ask, make sure you let them know they can sit with you. You can even go the extra mile and ask them to lunch after service!
FOUR: INVOLVE KIDS
You may or may not have children of your own, but the concept is simple. Children have a way of softening a situation. When you involve children, they can often bring a fresh joy into the situation. It is also impactful for kids to see adults going out of their way to love one another. Involving kids will look different for each situation. Not to worry! Simply be discerning and don’t be afraid of laughter around someone grieving. It might be just what they need!
FIVE: MAKE SURE THEY HAVE A PLACE TO CELEBRATE
This point is extremely life-giving to the griever, but it could also be a sacrifice for those offering a place of respite. Regardless of the sacrifice, what a gift it is to let someone into your home, one of your most sacred places. In light of eternity, this gift could end up being the spark that your family needs. Jesus is clear that we are to love those around us, not just with our words, but through our actions as well. Nothing says I love you like opening your doors and allowing someone to embrace the warmth of your family.
No need to be overwhelmed with these five points! Instead, stop and pray. Ask God to help you with point one (listening to others) and then allow him to lead you into your own journey of helping others this Christmas. We can’t wait to hear what he does!
PS If you want to listen to Lauren give these points on her live video, you can here!