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When it's not the feel good season

Stephen Ministry

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POSTED: November 29, 2010 9:58 a.m.

Here we are again, the most wonderful time of the year! The start of the holiday season, Thanksgiving, going shopping early on Black Friday to see the people, sights, sounds and flavor of the start of the shopping season, college and NFL football, school vacation, Christmas movies brought out and seen over and over again, the Twelve Days of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, at Christmas, New Years and a ‘lotta’ promises made for the coming year, football playoffs, the Super Bowl and for all us romantics, Valentine’s Day.
Man oh man, does it get any better than this?
For so many of us, it is also a time with many opportunities for friends and especially family to gather, to renew old ties and celebrate the ties that bind. It’s a time to reminisce of times past, to reacquaint and realign our relationships with loved ones and close friends. To sit quietly and think of all the Christmas seasons past and the loving memories of a kinder, simpler time and places in the heart. To gently miss those who have been called away or called home to be with our heavenly Father. To many in our community, it will be a time of reunion with loved ones deployed in our military or separated by miles, states and countries.
This season above all others has a flavor all its own for so many of us, such joy and happiness. 
But for many others among us, it is a dreaded time, even frightening, despaired, unwanted and empty, devoid of the joy and feelings most of us take for granted and assume everyone else does too. There are many among us, next door, in the same household and family or work environment who wish it would all go away, due to declining health, loss of a loved one or relationship, unpleasant memories of the past, loneliness, feeling unwanted or anti-social, destitution, overwhelming stress and loss of faith and hope.
I will never forget the Christmas season of 1963 and a true gentleman named Charlie Krantz. Old Charlie, as we knew him, was a veteran and also a veteran of 83 Christmas seasons. I delivered papers then and every day would take Charlie’s to him personally, knocking on his door and going in to specially deliver his Daily Advocate and he would always ask me to sit awhile and talk. He was a kind and gentle man of very limited means, but yet very rich in faith and a walking history book of tales and experience. Regardless of his great spirit and nature, the holidays were really rough on him. All of his family was gone, he had outlived them all. I would sit in awe, closely listening many times to stories from his past, about his family, his work for 50 years and the places he’d been. He had led a life “well seasoned” and deserving of respect. But what I noticed and remember in great detail was the look in his eyes as they teared up when he spoke of holidays past and his wife and children, and how he was now all alone. Many times, just like a switch had been turned, he would excuse himself and say that he wasn’t feeling well and had to lie down for a while.
We lost Charlie during the next year, but I will never forget what he said or that look of despair in his eyes.
All of us know our own “Charlie’s”. We live with them, around them, next to them or know of them, and many more like them. Some are individuals, some couples, some estranged families, many just overwhelmed with loneliness and grief, the kind that comes from the first holiday after the loss of their loved one and those who suffer the pain of loss each and every year, for each special day and every day, for the rest of their lives.
This is a busy time of the year in the Stephen Ministry and every ministry all around us. We meet almost daily with people who believe they are having Christmas for perhaps the last time themselves or with their loved one or can’t find closure and management for their grief, separation, estrangement or many other issues in their lives.
The holidays bring out the best in many of us and the worst for many more.
If you or someone you know or know of could use or needs the help of a specially trained, compassionate, sensitive and faith-driven caregiver, help is just a phone call away to the Stephen Ministry Team at First Baptist Church Hinesville. The men and women of the Stephen Ministry can make and do make a difference to many, especially during the holidays and all year long. We are totally confidential, gender sensitive and careful listeners guided by the love of Jesus Christ. Just call 912-320-7840 or 912-876-2687 for a confidential appointment. We understand the “feelings of the holidays” and every day, and are here to help.
Please plan a part of your giving this holiday season to give the gift of love and caring and a little of the most important gift, your time for someone you meet or know. Learn more about the global Stephen Program at stephenministry.org.

 

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