Today, Elisabeth Klein guest posts about navigating through the Christmas season when you are not feeling “merry.” Welcome her!
I went through a period of feeling lost. Sad. Blah. Passion-less. I purchased a book to help me work through the sad state I was in and I was clicking right along. I did everything it told me to do: I came up with a life timeline, listed the negative points, processed the redemption that has come from each, and decided upon my five primary roles. This was all good and fine; I felt like I was accomplishing something.
And then…and then I hit a wall.
So I did what I usually do when I hit a wall: I spent some time with my mentor. And I was telling her about this process that I was making myself go through and how, when I got to the step where it asked what my ambitions were – how I wanted to live out my life in each of my five roles – how I hit a wall and couldn’t think of anything to write down under any of them, after thinking and praying about it for several days.
I told her that for the past twenty years, I’ve had various passions. Mothering young children, then women’s ministry, then social justice. That I’d poured myself into each of these things, wrote about these things, been an advocate for these things. But that right then, I didn’t have a passion for anything.
And she said, “I have your answer.”
“Okay,” I said. “What is it?”
And then she said something like this, “Years ago, when people lost someone they loved, it was expected that they would mourn for a year. They were given black arm bands to wear. They even put black wreathes on their front doors. They were to rest and grieve and heal. They even had places in the middle of their town called Melancholy Park where they would be allowed to go and just sit. Can you imagine? No one would bother them, no one made fun of them, no one pushed them to get back into their regular lives. They were not only allowed but encouraged to do the grieving work, for a year.”
I sat there, tears streaming down my face, not even four months past my divorce at the time.
She continued, “You have lost something big. Picture yourself with a black arm band. Let yourself rest. Let yourself grieve. Let yourself heal. I’ll let you know if I think you’re not doing enough. But right now, just rest. Because if you don’t do the work now, it’ll come out eventually.”
I went home and put that book away. The process of finding my new place, my next chapter, my next thing, would wait a few months. (Okay, many months.) Because in that moment, I had the deeper work of rest to accomplish. How I wished I could live in Melancholy Park. (She says we can only visit…)
Is this you this Christmastime? Do you need permission to visit Melancholy Park? You have it. I’m giving it to you. Go rest and be sad.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. –Psalm 34:18–
God, I am sad. Sadness is hanging over me like a cloak that is too heavy for me to wear. Please meet me in Melancholy Park. Please help me not feel guilty for feeling this way. Please help me walk through it with your grace and mercy. Amen.
If this post resonated with you, Holidays for the Hurting: 25 Devotions to Help You Heal would be your companion through this season.
Elisabeth Klein is the grateful wife to Richard and grateful mom and stepmom to five. She writes, speaks and mentors women in difficult marriages, those going through divorce, single moms, those dating post-divorce, and those who are remarried and stepmothers. You can find her at http://www.elisabethklein.com.