Is Christmas a time of drowning for you? Not in debt, but in the quicksand of life with mental illness (MI). You may be thinking, “All I want for Christmas is that it will quickly end.”
Christmas lights, gifts, and baking can be reminders of times before your child had MI. The Hallmark TV channel has already begun airing Christmas movies. Plots which contain scenes of Norman Rockwell families. None seem to show how to celebrate the season in the context of MI. Stores have started selling Christmas decorations. None that can silence sadness.
It can feel like life is passing us by. We tend to believe everyone else lives ‘normal’ lives (whatever that means). Life appears to be so easy for others. People don’t know how complicated life is for us—too complicated to participate in favorite holiday traditions.
Oh, how we yearn to feel the joy of Christ’s coming to earth as a babe!
Chapter nine in the book of Matthew tells us about a lady who got caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christ’s visit to her town. Many probably didn’t even notice her. She was the one who endured a bleeding disease for twelve years. No one knew the courage it took for her to fight her way through the mob of people just to get to Jesus. Surely people stepped on her foot, accidentally jabbed her arm, or knocked her down. But she persevered. She needed a Healer. She sought a Lifesaver to rescue her from drowning in the loneliness and isolation of her disease.
Jesus felt His power go from Him. He noticed her and healed her.
Is there a way for us to celebrate Christmas while we deal with MI? Can we view the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season in a new way? A way that will lift our spirits? Can that lady inspire us to say, “All I want for Christmas is Jesus.”
The message of Christ’s birth is sweeping through our towns. We can face the mob scenes just like that lady. A woman who suffered adversity for many years knew how to keep her focus on Christ. Jesus entered her world and she simply wanted to touch the hem of his garment.
We share similarities with the lady in Matthew 9:20-22.
- She endured a disease which caused her to hide herself. We often hide ourselves in shame.
- Her disease weakened her and most likely kept her in anguish. We, too, are tired and worn out by MI. In anguish we watch our child with MI deal with life.
- Surely, she spent all her money on cures – to no avail. We often spend lots of money on psychiatric care for our fragile or tormented child. And wait for restored joy and clarity of thought.
- She touched Christ’s garment by faith and in secret. We approach Christ by faith and in secret.
- She needed Christ’s comfort. We, too, seek His comfort—for those in our family who are troubled.
- Christ called her daughter, speaking tenderly to her. Christ calls all believing women His daughters. We hear Him speak to us tenderly from His Word.
- Christ honored the faith of that humble woman. He honors our humble faith.
- Society shut her out, calling her unclean. But that didn’t shut her out from approaching Christ. Society shuts out those who struggle with MI. But that doesn’t stop us from entering into Christ’s presence. In prayer we bring our concerns, hopes, and requests to Jesus.
- Jesus entered her world. Christ left heaven to enter our world. He made a way for us to get to heaven. He’s acquainted with all suffering. Those are Truths worth rejoicing!
Outdoor Christmas lights don’t have to mock our struggles. They can be beautiful reminders of what we celebrate: Jesus’ presence in our lives.
Emanuel, God with us, is more than a Christmas greeting on a card. It’s a Truth we cling to. We rely on the promise of His presence. He is with us every minute, every day, all year long. Providing renewed hope, perfect peace, heavenly wisdom, and constant protection.
Reflect on the fact that Jesus left heaven for YOU as you listen to O Holy Night sung by Josh Groban: