Hope is the confident expectation that good is coming no matter how dark it seems. We are living in a dark world that could easily discourage us. If this is the first Christmas without a loved one, you might be wondering how you should be feeling. Give yourself permission to fully embrace tears and laughter. (Sometimes at the same time.)
The first advent candle represents HOPE and all week I have been thinking of hope. There is no better time than the time before we begin the hectic rush of Christmas to reflect on hope. Hope is the confident expectation that good things are ahead. Here's an acrostic for hope for this season (especially for those who are grieving).
Have confidence in the future
Life can be tough. I know many who are mourning the death of loved ones this last week. Others are feeling sad as they "ride waves" of sorrow and they feel stuck in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The shadows of grief can feel overwhelming. Keep walking toward the light of the future. Let the lights of Christmas all around you remind you that the light of the world came into a very dark world to bring hope.
Journal Prompt: What do you want to do in the coming year?
Open your heart to new experiences
Set aside old traditions and start some new ones. Ask your loved ones which traditions are most meaningful to them. Honor their requests and participate fully (or not). Give yourself permission to use your strength wisely and feel free to turn down invitations to events you might have enjoyed in the past. On the other hand, keep in mind that the loved one who is now in Heaven would want you to have a good time. Sometime honoring a loved one comes in the shape of having a ball! Try something outrageous and unexpected.
Journal Prompt: A new tradition we will be starting this year is ___________________.
Prepare for waves
Mourning consists of waves of sorrow. You never know for sure when a wave will hit. It seems that especially around the holidays that grief that has not been dealt with or new nuances of what you missed about your loved one. I remember getting hit in the grocery store with a wave on the olive aisle of the grocery store.
Journal Prompt: What unusual mourning wave have you experienced this week as you thought about the holidays?
Expect the best
After the death of someone close, you can be reticent to fully enjoy life. It might seem like you are not honoring the one who is absent. The truth is that your loved one would want you to be happy and fulfilled. The best is yet to come based on the foundation of your love for your loved one. This is a new day -- the best is yet to come. You are still alive so enjoy the gift you've been given.
Journal Prompt: What is the greatest gift you could receive?
During this Christmas season I am so glad for the glorious songs that can be heard no matter where we go. Oh Holy Night is my favorite because it rings with hope and light. During the years that my husband and I served as pastors we would sing this special song as a duet every year. Here are the words so you can enjoy them with me.
Oh holy night
Oh holy night - the stars are brightly shining