Life has been extra crazy the last few months. In September, my Grandmother was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and within 3 weeks of her diagnosis, she was in the arms of Jesus. Nothing can prepare you for that kind of shock. Nothing can prepare you for the toll it takes on you emotionally, physically, or spiritually.
Between September and October my family and I made 3-4 trips to Tennessee. The traveling was enough to wear me out, but the incredible decline I saw my Nanny go through was too much for my little brain to take in. One minute she was here. One minute the world was completely right and everything was how it should be. The next minute, a text message changed everything. "Mom has Pancreatic Cancer," my dad wrote. My world crumbled.
I remember a few days after receiving that message, I was at a youth event with my Middle School girls. Towards the end of the event, something hit me. Grief. I started to tear up at the table we were all sitting at and I quickly made my way to my office. I fell on the floor, curled up in a ball and just wept. How could this happen? I had hoped we would at least have one more Christmas with her. One more Christmas with her Country Ham and Eggnog. One more Christmas with her bigger-than-life laughter. One more Christmas to tell her how much we love her.
The doctors gave us very little hope. We stood by her hospital bed when the doctor said, "I'm not going to sugar coat this. You only have weeks left." I saw my family's hope disappear and I saw my Grandmother make a brave choice to decline Chemotherapy. I listened as my father said through tears and a broken voice, "You and Daddy have been the best, Momma."
We were beginning to say goodbye. And we didn't know how to do it.
She's been gone from this world for about 5 weeks now, and I can honestly say that I'm not sure if I've even started the real grieving process. I've cried. I've wept. I've missed her terribly. But it all still seems so unreal. I have had moments that I knew if I let myself, I would fall to pieces. So I hold it in. And I stay busy. And I pretend like I'm strong enough to keep on going. And I grasp at things that I think might fill the void in my heart for a few minutes.
I know my story is like so many others around this time of year. We try to pretend like we've got this thing together. We try to act like we're strong and capable. But the truth is we're weak and frail. And if we're honest, the thought crosses our mind, "If I can just make it through the next four weeks..."
I'm realizing, that when my coworkers and I came up with the theme for this Christmas season months ago, I had no idea what an impact it would make on me. We decided that our Sermon Series would be titled, "Pause." And after Joshua's message yesterday, I can truly say that I'm still impacted. My inclination around this time of year is to be everything to everyone. I want to find the perfect gifts, make the perfect treats, have the prettiest decorations for people to admire. And like so many of you out there, I'm already worn out and December isn't even here.
Can I make a confession? All of my friends know that I'm a complete Christmas fanatic. You won't find a bigger one than me. I always have my decorations up by the middle of November. But this year? They're still in storage. It is mind-blowing to me how this is possible.
But I've been trying to hide my grief. And I've been trying to hide all the things going on in my heart - hide them from the world... and hide them from God. And I've kept myself insanely busy. Too busy to even enjoy the things I normally do this time of year.
The Holy Spirit is imploring me this Christmas season to PAUSE.
For me, that means that I'm taking 4 hour naps and going to bed at 9pm. I've spent the last 3 months running on very little sleep and I know it's taken a toll on my emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Pausing this season means that I am doing only things that bring me joy - not just checking off marks on my Expectation To-Do List. My friend asked me last night, "Wow, why aren't your Christmas decorations up?!" I decided in the moment that I am not putting them up (even though every part of me feels like I NEED to) until I can honestly do it with joy in my heart and not out of a need to meet expectations (especially the ones I put on myself). Pausing means that I am going to consciously make an effort to lean into God's presence and not away from it any longer. When grief and heartache come, my tendency is to keep myself so occupied that I don't have time to spend with my Father. I don't know why that is - it's just the way my heart works. So in the next four weeks, I will be creating moments where God can come and dwell with me. Because I'm tired of making him unwelcome in my heart.
What can you do this Christmas season to pause? Remember these words this Christmas season: "Cease striving and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10 NASB
Cease striving. Be still. He is still God. You are still His.
Hi! My name is Stephanie, and I'm the girl behind this blog! I'm a pastor and a writer and a lover of all things chocolate. As you browse the content on this page, I hope you find yourself encouraged and smiling. At some moments, perhaps you would even shed a tear or two. Most importantly, I pray you find hope in whatever season you're walking through. We are in this journey together, and my calling is to encourage you along the way!