Being alone can be incredibly painful. Being alone at Christmas – a season of happiness, joy, and family – can be even more isolated. Unlike the movie “Home Alone”, many people aren’t at home enjoying the pleasures of food, gifts, and fighting off burglars.
I’ve never known the isolation and pain of being alone during the Holiday season, so maybe I’m not the best person to talk about this matter. And yet, I have lived through many seasons of loneliness in my life, so maybe I can identify. And yet, I know there’s something magical about the Holidays that simply burns a hole within the human spirit when experienced alone.
In 2005, I graduated from college and still didn’t have a job lined up for my next step in the journey. One month later, I was working for my college as a recruiter, which required me to travel 2-3 weeks a month all around the U.S. As a 22 year old, this was an incredible concept: seeing the other parts of the country and enjoying a season of exploration. Despite the many good memories, the isolation eventually wore me down, leaving me feeling an absence of an indescribable desire for relationship.
One such moment came during an Easter Sunday in Chicago in 2006. I was there for work, but had the day off, so I went to church by myself and then spent the rest of the day walking throughout the city. Chicago is the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen, but on this day I needed someone to be with me. The millions of people surrounding me didn’t know my name, nor where I came from. Why did I feel so alone? I have no idea…But I felt broken, as if something was simply not right. I found myself in a random park during the afternoon, crying my eyes out as I prayed for God to comfort me. I had been traveling for several months on my own and I desperately missed friendship, family, and familiar faces. The beauty of Chicago simply wasn’t enough.
We were made for relationship. God created us to be in communion with Him and with each other, yet when sin entered the world, relationships took a dark turn towards loneliness and isolation. We humans always mess things up…
“We’re all deeply flawed and even more deeply loved by God.” – Bob Goff
“Why share this quote?”, you may ask. Well, in my life’s journey thus far, I believe this to be the essence of our soul’s emptiness: the desire to be known and loved in our flaws. What’s incredible about Christmas is that God reminds us that we’re not alone.
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” – Matthew 1:22-23
I shared these verses in the last post and I’m sharing them again, because they simply capture the meaning of Christmas beyond mere human explanation.
God with us…We screwed everything up, leaving our souls hollow and devoid of the God who was meant to fill us with love, joy, and friendship…Then God shows up in human flesh and blood to walk with us, to teach us about the Father, and to die the death that we deserved.
Christmas may be lonely for you – a season of depression, pain, and sadness. And yet, even in your loneliness, God is near to you. You are not alone.
God with us. That is Christmas.