I blinked vacantly at my feet. My breathing was finally back to its usual predictable in-and-out rhythm. Wiping my wet eyes with the heels of my hands, I wondered if I’d be able to face walking back into church — the sermon had probably begun by now and I didn’t want people to see I’d been crying.
Minutes earlier I’d slipped out through the back door because I could feel a grief attack coming. The trigger? A family sitting two rows in front of me. They were there, all of them: the mum, the dad, and the three teenage kids. They looked happy. And that was it. That was enough to burst open the floodgates!
I literally ran as soon as I was out of the church building. Thankfully it was dark because I needed some privacy. I didn’t stop running until I reached a quiet backstreet nearby. Sitting there, alone, in the gutter I held myself firmly around the ribs, rocking back and forth, trying to calm myself down.
My heart screamed out to God as I silently prayed, through hoarse sobs, “Lord, it just hurts too much… I want a family to go to church with… I hate coming to church alone…”
This week’s blog post contains a poem I wrote during that period of my life. I pray it will comfort those of you who are feeling the sting of unmet longings or absent loved ones this Christmas.
I’ve also included some ideas for those of you who want to reach out to a grieving friend this Christmas but you’re not sure how.
Father God, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are faced with painful reminders of their losses at Christmas time. Please fill them with your comfort. Thank you for coming into our world in the body of a tiny baby. We’re so glad you came, Jesus, and allowed yourself to experience grief and sorrow firsthand. What an amazing God we belong to! Amen.