Thursday, February 19, 2015

Alone at Christmas

When I was growing up I thought I knew what it meant to be alone at Christmas. 
With my family, I felt no one understood me. 
And since I often had no girlfriend, I felt alone each year when Christmas time came. 
As a result, I often felt lonely, depressed, and sad. Blah, blah, blah….
This part of the story is similar for many peoples adolescent years. 
However – this was not always the case.

When I was in the military, I found a new way to enjoy Christmas. 
I quickly learned how many other guys had families, 
and which ones were scheduled to stand duty over the holiday. 
I was quickly asked to stand duty in their place! 

At first, I was very hesitant. I too wanted my time off! 
But- these same guys were willing to pay money, 
bring me food, and even take my duty for the following month. 
It seemed like a quick way to gain an advantage. 
And I learned to enjoy what I could offer others – 
an opportunity to spend time with love ones is, 
especially when I had no one else nearby myself.

This began a pattern of my serving others during the Christmas holiday. 
And even when I left the military, 
I volunteered to serve food to the homeless.

Yet when I went to prison, being alone at Christmas meant a whole new experience. 
I had a cell-mate, but that is not the same as being with family, or loved ones.
If I was allowed to have visitors that day, then it was more bearable. 
However, there were also times when there was no one came to visit me, or anyone else I knew. 
Those Christmas days are often the worst I can imagine for people who need loving support.

Recently, my wife's father fell ill. 
He spent this last Christmas in a hospital bed. 
His old body was worn and broken down, 
and couldn't sustain him well enough to get around on his own. 
I can only imagine how that "prison" feels like….
When you can no longer care for yourself.

Then I imagine him awaking on Christmas Day to no visitors, 
and no likely way to leave.
It is heart-breaking to think about...

What I realize is that many people lives their lives 
In a quiet state of lonely despair,
And they voluntarily stay in their makeshift prison,
Separated from those they know and love.

Is your family far from 'perfect'?
Are there uncomfortable experiences you wish to avoid?
Are you afraid to let people get close enough,
That they can know you and your vulnerablilities?

That is how life is now for many of us, but...
It doesn't have to be this way.
We can make the choice to push through - 
the troubled relationships,
The broken families,
The difficult circumstances.

 We can re-engage.
And not just at Christmas time,
But weekly, or even daily.
To put ourselves into places where friction is overcome by an effort of love.

Connecting with people,
Knowing love for someone else,
And feeling there love in return,
often Takes hard work.

Yet what I have found, is those relationships are often the most rewarding.

Will you push through your own bias and fear,
To connect with someone else who may, or may not reject you?
And if you cannot go to them,
Will you ask them to come to you,
making the effort to share yourself with another?

The thing is, you don't have to be alone.
Will you try?
What do you have to lose??

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