Feeling Isolated in the Midst of Gatherings

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The season of holiday get-togethers was upon us.  Church carry-ins, family potlucks, and work dinners began filling up the calendar. With it, our level of anxiety went up as we began thinking about what preparations we would need to make so we could be at each of these events.  Tension mounted as we checked what food was being planned at each activity.  Often, we would find that we would need to bring an entire meal for our son due to his dietary needs.  There was a scramble to figure out how we could make a holiday meal that in some way resembled what everyone else would be eating so he wouldn’t feel too left out. 

At the events, our minds would be on hyper-alert trying to ensure that someone didn’t accidentally give our son a food item that he would react to and reverse months of developmental progress.  We would constantly be monitoring Jordan for signs that he might be on the verge of overload or any indication that he might suddenly melt down.   Picture two soldiers transporting precious cargo to a new location. They are driving through areas that are often friendly, the locals are waving, giving thumbs up to them but they are still vigilant for an attack that might come seemingly out of nowhere.  Their eyes trained to spot things most people wouldn’t notice.  While we would engage with friends and family, our guard was constantly up.  We were amid people who loved us but we still felt alone.

As I think about these struggles, I can’t help but think back to the very first Christmas.  The angel Gabriel came to Mary and let her know that she would be giving birth to the son of God. During this time, Gabriel also told her about her relative Elizabeth who was experiencing her own birth related miracle. Just a few days after receiving the news, Mary traveled to be with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah had been unable to have children and now were old. Zechariah was a priest.  He was in the temple sanctuary burning incense when the angel Gabriel met with him and told him that he and Elizabeth would have a son who was to play an important role in preparing the way for the coming of the Lord.  Zechariah questioned how this could happen since both he and his wife were so old.  As a result of his doubt, Gabriel told Zechariah that he would be unable to speak until their child was born.

Imagine the relief that both Mary and Elizabeth must have felt to have had someone that they could talk to.  Mary likely received many incredulous looks from family and friends as they found out she was pregnant and probably had many of her own fears and doubts.  What a relief to have someone that believed her and didn’t question her story that the baby she carried in her was the son of God.  Imagine what it would have been like for Elizabeth not being able to really talk to her husband about the baby growing in her and not having other women in the community who could relate to what she was experiencing.  How extremely valuable it was to be able to have someone there who got it.  They valued each other’s company so much that Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months, until just before Elizabeth was due.

If you find yourself feeling on guard this Christmas season and just trying to get through it, take comfort in knowing that you have a heavenly Father who sees you and knows what you are going through.  You might not have angels singing in the sky above you, or shepherds coming to your door, which is probably a good thing…talk about sensory overload, but the same Father who sent a star to guide the wise men to their Savior knows your every need, your heart, your struggles and is with you when you feel alone.  He didn’t just provide a Savior and turn His back on you but He is with you every day.

I’m praying that this Christmas season, when it is so easy to lose sight of why we are celebrating and when our precious routines are thrown out the window, God will provide you with an “Elizabeth”.  That He will direct you to someone who gets it, that you can encourage each other and that this season truly is a season of celebration. You are not alone.

We would like to hear from you.  What is your biggest challenge during the Christmas season and what helps you the most during this time?