For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. —Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NRSV)
After I had proposed creating a plan to move her life toward joy, my client looked at me for what seemed like five minutes but was probably only five seconds. Then she said, with a challenge in her voice, “It’s okay if I just want to sit in my s%&#.” I assured her I understood; as long as it was working for her. When I walked her to the door, I wished her the best and thanked her for her honesty. Both of us knew that that was her last session. She would not return for my plan for joy.
Later, a regular client wrote to me in an email, letting me know that she would no longer continue our counseling relationship because she felt worse after talking with me. I would have liked to explore her feelings, but she ended the relationship in an email because our sessions “made her sad.”
For a while, I thought it was something I had done. But as I prayed about it, the words of Ecclesiastes gave me peace: the writer reminds me there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (v. 4). It’s okay to want to experience the lessons of sadness or grief until you decide it’s time to rise out of the ashes. It is equally fine to want to avoid sadness and to embrace what brings you joy.
The holidays are pretty much here. Retailers make sure we are reminded it is time for that holiday shopping frenzy. We begin making holiday plans for food, family, and friends. We also schedule time for our faith by attending worship services that celebrate the season. Everywhere we are reminded, “ ’Tis the season to be jolly!” I propose that also during this season you schedule time to stop and pay attention to what you are feeling:
I know what makes me happy.
I will do more of what brings me joy.
When I remember, it’s okay that I cry.
I will take time to feel my sadness.
I offer myself compassion as I continue to grieve.
This holiday season, sit with and explore your sadness or take time to learn what brings you more joy. These websites may make you smile or bring the tears. There is a time for both.
Sitting with Your Sadness
64 Tips for Coping with Grief at the Holidays. A long list, but one tip may speak to you.
How to Survive the Loss of a Love, by Melba Colgrove, Harold Bloomfield, and Peter McWilliams. These authors write on the loss of a living love. “When an emotional injury has taken place, the body begins a process as natural as the healing of a physical wound. Let the process happen.”
Dancing with Your Joy
Real Happiness Is More Than Putting on a Face. Living happiness from the inside out.
Pinterest images that bring joy. Find something that makes you smile!
-Strolling my grandbaby through the neighborhood
-The tiny lights on my bedroom altar