Alone One Christmas
As much as I love gifts tied up in shiny paper and big bows, one of the best gifts I’ve received didn’t include either one of these. Years ago one of the best Christmas gifts I received came through an act of thoughtfulness.
My husband, two sons, and I had moved a few months before Christmas to Charlotte, NC, where we knew no one.
Christmas Eve day was cold, rainy, and lonely. My pilot husband was working Christmas Eve and Christmas Day while I was home with our toddler Zachary and baby Tyler.
Unfortunately, baby Tyler was experiencing his first severe diaper rash. I tried the variety of medicines I had on hand to treat my son’s problem, but he continued to fuss and cry. And eventually I did too!
I felt so alone – and it felt awful. Especially since it was Christmas.
Have you had that miserably alone feeling? Most of us have at some time – we ache with hollowness, emptiness; we long for comfort and connection.
God knows this longing of ours not to be alone because we find in Scripture one of the most comforting names of Jesus. In Matthew 1: 22, 23 we read, “Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name, Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’”
Life will always unfold times when we can’t have the comfort of someone physically with us. However, we will always have Immanuel. And Immanuel promises never to leave us alone. That’s the true gift of Christmas.
Back to my crying Tyler and his diaper rash. At this point I didn’t have any close friends, but we had been attending a nearby church and had met some people though a small group. Although everyone in the group was friendly, I didn’t want to bother anyone on Christmas Eve. It took humility and a dose of misery to reach out for help.
The acquaintance from the small group I called was busy with a houseful of company, but she offered me the name of a foolproof remedy: Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. She couldn’t get away to bring it to me, but she had a friend whom she would call to bring it to me so I didn’t have to go out with two little ones on the icy roads.
And that’s exactly what happened! A sweet lady I didn’t know showed up on my doorstep with the magic potion – and it worked!
Can you imagine how much better I felt? How less alone I felt? 18 years later it’s still a vivid memory.
When I felt alone and longed for help and company, Immanuel showed up in the kindness of two ladies I hardly knew. I was still a bit downhearted without my husband, but the ache wasn’t as sharp because two women were Immanuel that Christmas Eve day.
What a gift to know someone cares, or someone is physically by our side during challenging times. God gives that gift to us, so we can pass it along to someone else. How can we give the gift of Immanuel to someone alone or lonely this Christmas?
Know that we love and appreciate each of you, and pray you experience the comfort and nearness of Immanuel.
Beautiful. As a widow who just spent my third birthday and Christmas without my husband (10 days apart) I was so thankful for the “God with us”ness of Emmanuel. But as the blog said, sometimes you need people—God with skin.
On my birthday I was disappointed with the people who love me, and more disappointed with myself for feeling it so strongly. I share this to maybe encourage someone else. Jesus was so present all day, but still… I cried, “Jesus I’m so sorry, I want you to be enough.”
His response was immediate. “Could you not watch with me for one hour?” His words to his friends in Gethsemane. This spoke two things to me: first, Jesus,was in perfect communion with the Father, yet in his humanity, still needed the connection with people. Second, he was disappointed. His friends let him down. A text – I’m thinking of you, how are you today,
Emmanuel met me in my need and put a stop to any thoughts of self-condemnation.
With that said… Anything that conveys “I see you,” “you are not alone,” or “you are not forgotten,” will be well received. A card would be nice. Texts were appreciated, especially from my friend who was away on vacation with her family. “Happy birthday. Are you doing ok?”
In the middle of Christmas festivities, acknowledgement of the thought that I may not be feeling so merry means a lot. Understanding I might need tidings of comfort, not just joy, goes a long way.
Hah please ignore the text comment after Jesus’ response to me. I was typing on my phone and thought I misplaced a comment somewhere. Of course I couldn’t find it til after I hit send!
Thank you for sharing so genuinely from your heart. And I’m sorry you are hurting. Yes, some hurts seem to go away a bit and then quickly return. I especially appreciate your specific suggestions. A friend is newly widowed – in October – and this will help me be Immanuel to her.
Melanie thank you for your desire to be there for your friend. People don’t know how, and in their worry of saying or doing the wrong thing, many do nothing. Any attempt, no matter how clumsy, will be appreciated.
She may actually seem somewhat ok right now. It took a good 6 months for the numbness (I called it a bubble of grace) to wear off. I was a hot mess! I needed more support then than I did in the beginning.
I would caution you, though, not to overcommit. Ask God what He would have you do. He may have a specific job for you, or may ask you to do something crazy.
At my moment of greatest need, my best friends all took a step back—because they were listening. God didn’t want them to catch me. As hard as it was at the time, as lonely and isolated as I felt, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Because guess what? God caught me.
The tenderness of Jesus in what you shared brings tears to my eyes, Jennifer. I praise Him that there is no condemnation in Him and that He is the lover of our souls! Thank you for sharing and reminding all of us to lift our eyes watch for ways to reach out to hurting friends.
Amen Amy. He is so faithful.