The holidays were hard this year. Perhaps I had PTSD after my dad’s heart attack. Maybe it was thinking of all my friends who’ve lost a parent or loved one recently. Maybe it was Hannah amassing things for her apartment (a collection rivaling inventory at Home Goods) or Casey’s college tour reminding me the season of “lasts” we’re in. I’m not sure why, but every Christmas song, commercial and decoration was depressing, and I began to understand why some people struggle in December.
I knew I had no reason to be down. My dad not only survived his major heart attack, he is doing quite well. Although many friends were grieving their first Christmas without someone, by God’s grace I wasn’t. As sad as I am to see my twenty-year career as a SHM come to an end, no one wants their kids living in their basement until they’re 40 (for ours and their sake). Realizing this should’ve made me snap out of my funk. Being aware of all I had to be thankful for should’ve given me joy.
But it didn’t.
On my dad’s worst day in the ICU I remember driving home bawling and praying out loud, “God, please help him…” over and over again. It was all I could pray because I was exhausted, empty and helpless. There wasn’t anything me or the doctors could do to help my dad feel or get better. I got home around 10:30 and asked anyone who was awake and on Facebook to pray for my dad and immediately they did.
When I went to see my dad that morning I asked how he slept. He hadn’t slept more than a few hours at a time since arriving in the ICU four days earlier. He said, “I closed my eyes around 10:30 and slept for about seven hours.” Although I know prayer doesn’t usually work that way, I’m finding when I come to the end of myself and can’t control the situation, pain or funk I’m in my prayers are simple, passionate and more effective.
How did I break the Christmas blues I shouldn’t have had, but did? I asked. I asked God to take them away because I couldn’t make them go away. How can I explain my sadness lifting after simply repeating those few desperate words? The same way I’d explain my dad going from extreme pain to sleeping like a baby.
I want empirical evidence, a formula or minimally an articulate explanation but that’s how humans work. The Holy Spirit doesn’t roll that way. As much as I don’t like that, I’m finally beginning to understand more fully what the Bible means when it talks about Christ’s strength being made perfect in weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:8-10). No one wants to be or admit they’re weak, but unfortunately, I seem to keep finding myself unable to help myself. The irony is, as I stand helpless to do anything but hope and watch, I’m finding it’s a pretty amazing view.