By Kyla L. Wright, BCERC Journalist-in-Residence
I have an old soul, so I grew up – instead of listening to my generation’s hip hop hits – I was listening to The Temptations, Michael Jackson, Anita Baker…the list goes on. But one old school hit that touches my soul differently now that I can feel the meaning, is the O’Jays’ 1973 song, Christmas Ain’t Christmas. Before, through, and still amid COVID, we’ve all been heartbroken by loss in one way or another to reference the lyrics, “Christmas just ain’t Christmas without the one you love. New Years just ain’t New Years without the one you love.”
Year after year we’ve celebrated these holidays with joy, but after nearly two years in an
ongoing pandemic, it seems like joy is harder and harder to find. And that’s real. From November until January there’s a never ending stretch of celebratory bliss that may feel draining through exhaustion and even depression. Now, into the new year, we don’t know
what’s ahead of us, and don’t really know what to expect. Many of my family and friends are saying, “it’s gonna get worse before it gets better,” and it seems like various health departments aren’t saying much of anything. God is truly the only one we know to lean on for any hope at this moment.
I’ve found myself asking him, “Lord, how do we celebrate yet another seemingly joyful holiday in the midst of all this chaos and loss?” He gave me two answers: very different in their own right, but they were helpful to me and I hope they will be to you, also.
1. He told me that, you can practice gratefulness and still be aware of the world around you, while not being negative.
Many – including myself – may find this hard to believe, but I’m just the messenger. He told me that it’s not about shielding yourself from the realities of the world and acting like everything is perfect, but it’s about the words coming out of your mouth that you’re speaking over your own life. There are over 50 references in the Bible about the tongue, such as Proverbs 12:18; which says, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Instead of speaking negatively about the world getting worse, speak with hope that we as a people will be able to better manage our current situation until it dwindles. If you find trouble doing this, add Psalms 19:14 into your prayers, and ask the Lord to let the words of your mouth, and the meditation of your heart, be acceptable in thy sight.
Social media challenges are popular today, especially with Millennials and Gen Z-ers. Think of this as a challenge, but not to show others, but to prove to yourself – and to God – that your mindset and your words will turn a situation around. Think of it like it’s a, “No Negativity New Year” challenge. Challenge yourself to start out by speaking more positively all month long, and observe your personal life thereafter. Even if you aren’t feeling well, speak that you are. Speak life over your job, your family, and over the world — the Devil hates that.
2. He also told me, it’s okay to be sad.
Living in tumultuous, uncertain and scary times where life is changing quicker than ever can be devastating. It’s difficult to adjust, especially if diagnoses, loss and isolation are seemingly at every turn. Psalms 30:5 says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Now, like many scriptures, that isn’t literal. Likely, if you’re in sorrow right now, your pain isn’t going to simply disappear when you wake up tomorrow. But, speaking from personal experience, I’ve been able to tailor the scripture. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy, too, comes in the mourning. I’ve grieved some tremendous losses over the last few years and have learned that the pain of losing something or someone is still in your heart; but while they’re gone, relief during grief comes when positive reminisce occurs. That’s my joy in the mourning.
As we all go through our own trials and tribulations together and apart, Lord, allow us to grow more in you and less of us, as we’re in the world, not of the world. In this new year, we’re asking for health, wealth, and restoration. Let us live our lives as 1 Peter 5:7 says, and cast all our anxiety on you, because you care for us. Even in the midnight hour; even in the midst of the storm; even during our nights of weeping, continue to show us that you’re there and that you care. Thank you for allowing us to trust in you with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding; for we acknowledge you in all our ways, knowing that you’ll direct our paths.
In your name we pray, Amen and Ashe.