Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Surviving the Happy Holidays if You're Not So Happy!

Not everyone has a "Happy" Holiday this time of year. My church family has lost more members this year to death than in a normal year, so more of my church members are facing their first Christmas without a loved one. Add to that countless others suffering from depression, illness, loneliness, etc. that give ample opportunities to feel sad during "the most wonderful time of the year."

I came across this article concerning using the psalms to "confront the uncomfortable darkness," and I thought it had some pretty good insight into how important being honest with God is, especially when we are grieving or depressed. The author is Dr. Lynn Anderson ( Here are the first two paragraphs:

The Psalms help us explore the uncomfortable. God provides therapy through the Psalms. As we pray all of the Psalms — laments as well as praises — they will take us into emotional geography that we might otherwise avoid. They lead us to process painful feelings we might otherwise just stuff down inside.

Our “happy happy” culture programs us to avoid painful or negative feelings. But serious downsides come with this kind of avoidance. Mental health professionals have long since discovered that swallowed painful feelings, like anger, fear and shame usually produce negative consequences. These feelings frequently come out in some destructive form, such as clinical depression or substance abuse or sexual acting out. God knew this. And I believe one reason he gave us the Psalms is to help us unearth these kinds of feelings and deal with them. By praying the Psalms we vent and lay our stuff honestly at His feet. God is big enough to let us beat on his chest.

The rest of the article can be found here:

As we celebrate the birth of Christ this Christmas season, be especially sensitive to those who may be having a more difficult time celebrating.

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