podcast link below:
Romans 12:13a. Take a constant interest in the needs of God’s beloved people and respond by helping them.
Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
In the holiday season when all is supposed to be merry and bright, chronic illness patients often feel less than shiny. And in so doing, we can easily feel a false guilt of not belonging or deserving of the festivities around us from our inability to overcome the exhaustion and pain of our own bodies. We can feel like we are looking in the windows, not there in the room. Chronic illnesses don’t take vacations or holidays. Instead, they often break down the doors and take over at the most inopportune times when we are desperately yearning for a respite from them. Thus, the familiar phrase of “home for the holidays” takes on a whole new meaning with a chronic illness patient…
I can’t number how many special times I’ve missed from not having the strength to put on my clothes, make it out the door, sit up in a chair, and participate with you in celebration, conversation, or cookies. For then, yet again, I’m “home for the holidays.” That’s the reality but that’s not the entire picture. For when I can’t go, I delight in the gifts of being included in the invitation, a text saying you missed me, or a plate of goodies sent home for me with my husband.
The delight of being included supersedes the disappointment of not being there. The warmth of your understanding exceeds the defeat of another time spent by myself in the bed i.e. “home for the holidays”. For when you invite and include me, you accept me as I am, not as you think I should be. You are Jesus to me in your hope that I can come this time (or the next). You are Jesus to me in your thoughtfulness and generosity of having a place for me. Even though your chair might be empty of my physical body, please know that I am there with you in spirit. I am rejoicing with you in the upcoming birth, graduation, marriage, birthday, anniversary, or special holiday. All of those times that are important to you are important to me. I am with and for you; I’m just in another room. I am, quite literally, “home for the holidays”.
And there in that other room, I am praying for you and your special day. For joy, delight, and happiness to permeate every minute and person present. For precious memories to be made and special recipes to come out the way your mother or grandmother used to make them. For all who are there to feel welcome and loved. And most importantly, I am praying for Jesus to be there in the chair I was supposed to sit in. (Scripture tells us He loved a good party!)
For when Jesus is there, love is there. And only love brings the kind of celebration that comes, stays the entire time, and then goes home with all in attendance. Love makes a day truly special in the now and gives strength for the days not-yet. And days ripe with love are very good gifts for all of us. For only Jesus is our true Home for the holidays, no matter what room we are in (or wish we were in).
John 1:14. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Some truths I’ve learned about hospitality as a chronic illness patient:
- Your invitation is a precious gift. Thank you for including me in your special day, especially when I’ve had to miss the last __________ times. Your faithfulness to keep asking means far more than you can ever know!
- Your understanding about my limitations is a beautiful gift. Thank you for not taking my absence as rejection of you or your event. Your event has been on my calendar since you sent me the invitation and I was planning on coming, but just couldn’t do that today.
- Your recognition of helps for me in padded chairs, smaller plates, sitting near the bathroom or fireplace, or such when I am there, means far more than you can know. The last thing I want to do is to cause you more work but your extra effort truly does help me to enjoy your event.
- Your kindness in letting me sit quietly or leave early is truly special to me. Thank you for sending me home without regret or disappointment. Your unfettered hospitality gives me freedom from the guilt that I should’ve stayed despite the pain or exhaustion.
Dear Father God,
Thank You that You are love and You give love in every minute of every day! Thank You that Your Presence makes the ordinary moments extraordinary in joy and hope. Thank You that Your good gift of Your Son, Jesus, is a gift for the now and the not-yet. Please help me to be grateful in all things, all ways, and all times. Please help me to love others like You do. Please help me to be kind, gracious, and tender especially when the choices are hard.
In the strong Name of Jesus,
Written by and copyrighted to Beth Madison, Ph.D., 2021.
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