Tag Archives: sadness

When Christmas Is Hard – the God of Comfort & Joy

On this predawn Christmas morning, my thoughts are heavy remembering a year ago when Dad died about this time. He died after a long goodbye with cancer and Alzheimer’s. He died under the tender care of my brother and sister-in-law who had already lost her own dad just days before.

Dad is in Heaven, and joy comes thinking of seeing him, Mom, and others there one day. The heaviness of my heart is just to be endured for now…I can’t seem to fix it. It’s been a year of not quite what it should be. Hard to even write those words because I am deeply grateful to God for even being here, in front of this keyboard, able to reflect on His goodness and provision.

Dad, in his sweet and generous heart, was one of those provisions. The only dad I ever knew, even though he wasn’t our biological father. He loved Christmas and brought to it a gleefulness that I can’t find this year.

Maybe some of you are struggling with Christmas this year. Away from family or with them in the shadows. Or there is something else going on…I don’t really want to string a series of possibles here. You know for yourself what is making Christmas hard.

If this is not your situation, just be glad in it. Most years, I have known that kind of Christmas and will again.

Sadness makes it hard to reach out to others (although I have a friend who today, pushing through her own sadness, will serve in a hospital hospitality house). I have struggled to reach out this year.

Still, we will hold to the comfort and joy that is ours through Christ Jesus. What he did for us…what he continues to do in the greatest love known to us.

If you are having a hard time reaching out, and getting the help you need, just please be gentle with yourself. There are resources for us in the depth of our despair (links below). God is near. He desires to comfort us and restore our joy. He will pierce the dark cloud of our sadness as we turn to Him. He will be with us right where we are.Photo Credit: Holley Gerth

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3–4 

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Postscript: We have known a lot of airports in our long life of travel – and watching folks arrive to family and friends has always been a marvel to me. I think of Dad’s Homegoing and smile, in spite of this morning’s sadness, at the welcome he received in Heaven. Sweet.

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. it seems to me that love is everywhere. Ofte, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” – from the film Love Actually

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-8255

Celebrating Christmas with a Broken Heart – Brittany Salmon

What Suffering People Wish You Would Do at Christmas – Vaneetha Rendall Risner

A Sorta Gift Guide for the Overwhelmed & Broken Hearted This Christmas – Ann Voskamp

How Having a Little Charlie Brown Christmas Gets You into the Best Christmas Spirit of All (About Fears & Heartbreak & Hard Families at Christmas) – Ann Voskamp

This Christmas – Our Little Clark

The Other Side of Organizational Downsizing – What Survivors and Their Managers Can Do Going Forward

Blog - Downsizing strategies - slideshare.netPhoto Credit: Slideshare.net

Recently, a young friend of mine told me about an abrupt change in his company. He went in one morning to the usual – team meeting, work routine, cubicle life. Then in the early afternoon, without any prior notice or indication, the head of the company walked around the building with envelopes. By the end of the day, in this small tech support company, one-third of the employees had packed up and left the building.

Surprise lay-offs are the hardest to bear, but any kind of downsizing, no matter how necessary, is stressful and disorienting. When crisis precipitating a downsizing occurs, organizational leaders are wise to put together a transition team right away.

For those who were laid-off or who took the separation package in a carefully orchestrated downsizing, there is colossal adjustment. Hopefully, they will get the support they need to get that next job or to thrive in retirement.

For those who remain with the company, their adjustment can be great as well. Do an internet search for “surviving downsizing” and you will find hundreds of articles, and even several books on the subject.

Employees who survive the downsizing (whether because of their age, capabilities, or department) will still go through a period of post-traumatic stress. On that Monday, for instance, after their colleagues leave, they must re-orient to a new normal.

Blog - Downsizing threat or opportunity - slideshare.netPhoto Credit: Slideshare.net

Michael Sanders, author of 7 Critical Mistakes Employees Make in a Downsizing, wrote an empowering Linkedin article on how to take charge of one’s own survivors’ syndrome and move forward. First Sanders defines the elements of “sickness”; elements which include guilt, mistrust, sadness, anxiety, and disagreeability. Then he moves right to ten “power moves” that employees can make for a healthier, more substantive work situation. I list these, but don’t miss, in the article, what he says further on each.

  1. Practice instant alignment re-centering.
  2. Play by the new rules.
  3. Speed up.
  4. Practice intensive task management.
  5. Fall in love with your work, again.
  6. Take on new assignments.
  7. Expand your business affiliations.
  8. Continue your education.
  9. Become your own hero.
  10. Keep in touch with laid-off [or “downsized”] work friends.

Some of Sanders’ action items may seem more than you can handle as you adjust yourself to a work life very different than the previous one. His bottom line is  to refuse to be a victim. Whether your organization is proactive in retaining and retraining you, you can champion your own professional needs and career. It will benefit you and either your current employer or your next one.

Stress specialist Morton C. Orman, M.D. also wrote a prescriptive piece entitled 18 Ways to Survive Your Company’s Reorganization, Takeover, Downsizing, or Other Major Change. Below are 8 of the points I believe are most helpful (again refer to his article for the rest of his wisdom).

  1. Be prepared for [more] change.
  2. Watch out for unrealistic expectations.
  3. Get creative.
  4. Expand your value to the company.
  5. Celebrate your accomplishments.
  6. Seek appropriate compensation or “risk share” arrangements.
  7. Improve lines of communication.
  8. Become more efficient.

Again, these may seem obvious, on one hand, and annoyingly intrusive as well. You’re grieving the beloved colleague who was laid-off or that great boss who retired. In the process of that grief which may be with you for some time, you still have that job to do…with probably more responsibility added. Sadness and anxiety tend to affect our performance negatively. That’s why it’s imperative to set in place processes you may not have needed before but need now to recover and embrace what’s ahead.

Hopefully you have leaders and managers who are already astutely moving the company forward…with you in mind, as well as the  product/services. If not, you can’t risk waiting. Do your reading, evaluate your course of action, build your new work community, and demonstrate to yourself and those around you…you are a survivor! In the best sense of the word.

The Downsizing Jungle: 10 Power Moves by Mike Sanders

The Effects of Downsizing on Survivors: a Meta-analysis – Dissertation of Dr. Gladys West; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2000 – an excellent presentation of the issues of organizational commitment, job satisfaction, turnover intention, role conflict, job involvement, supervisor support, procedural and distributive fairness. [scholarly piece but worth wading through.]

Slideshare – Downsizing Best Practices – Survivors are Key – Don’t Neglect Them – Carol Beatty

Survivor Employees: What You Need to Know – description of 6 common profiles of employees dealing with “layoff survivor syndrome”

After Layoffs, Help Survivors Be More Effective – excellent article on what’s at stake for survivors of layoff and how, from a management standpoint, to turn things around.

18 Ways To Survive Your Company’s Reorganization, Takeover, Downsizing, or Other Major Change

Blog - Downsizing - slideshare.netPhoto Credit: Slideshare.net

Pixar’s Inside Out – and a Second Thought on Joy & Sadness

Blog - Inside Out - Theology of Sadness - scpr.org

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.Psalm 30:5

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.Matthew 5:4

My husband and I watched Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out this weekend. It was so stressful. We wondered how children managed coping with the anxiousness of the story. Riley, the heroine of the film, is an 11y/o who moved with her parents far away from her hometown. The story tells how she deals with that move with the help of her emotions (5 in particular – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust).

Happy, happy, happy little Joy is the moon-faced, darling emotion of Riley’s. The tension in the story is Joy’s attempt at damage control as little Sadness begins coloring some of Riley’s happy memories “blue”. The plot twists and turns as Joy tries to right Riley’s world.  She is pulled into a journey with Sadness alongside and spends most of the film trying to get back to Riley’s “presence of mind”. Meanwhile, Anger, Fear, and Disgust do what they can to help Riley maneuver through her day…without Joy and Sadness’s help. It’s a scary prospect.

I’m thinking children must get caught up in the adventure, the mesmerizing visuals and the familiar faces of these emotions. For me, it was just stressful.

I have a huge respect and admiration for Ed Catmull after hearing him speak at Global Leadership Summit 2015. Catmull heads the work of Disney/Pixar Animation Studios. Dave recently read his book Creativity, Inc. and so enjoyed it that I’m reading it also.

Blog - GLobal Leadership Summit - Ed Catmull by brainpickings.orgPhoto Credit: Brainpickings.org

Watching Inside Out, my mind wandered to the creative teams at Disney/Pixar. What were they thinking?! Then later, I had second thoughts on the film…after watching bits again as our youngest son, visiting over the weekend, watched it on pay-per-view.

He, too, also thought it was stressful, but as I watched his face, watching the film…I saw what we might have missed as older ones watching. Wonder, surprise, vexation, empathy. In the strong face of this young man, I saw the response to the film maybe hoped for by the creators. The audience identifying with the film…and in the end…understanding and a sweet resolution of the seeming conflict between Joy and Sadness.

On that second watching (both the film and watching my son watching), I liked Inside Out much better. It helped me to Google that great “Aha!” moment of Joy’s – when she discovered:

“Sadness…Mom and Dad, the team…they came to help because of sadness.”

No spoilers for those of you who haven’t seen the film, but for me, a couple of articles really resonated (see below). I struggle personally with sadness which shades the joy I also experience.  Then that same joy re-colors the sadness, bringing perspective and healing. Josh Larsen, in an article on the Think Christian website, wrote beautifully about this film’s message (at a deeper level):

It’s a rich subject – one mined with Pixar’s usual combination of wit, intelligence and emotional resonance – and also one that echoes a Christian understanding of the human experience. Christianity, after all, is an expression of joy in response to – not in denial of – deep sadness…we can’t fully understand our place in God’s story unless we’ve experienced sadness of some sort. It isn’t until we recognize the deep sorrow of this world – the Fall, and our perpetuation of its effects – that we can fully appreciate the almost laughable generosity of Christ’s redemptive act. And only then will we know true joy, the fairy-tale ending that is God’s restoration of His creation. – Josh Larsen

Toward the end of the film, there’s a lovely moment between Riley and her parents. She finally comes to terms with her deep sadness in moving away from home. It’s a place all of us have been if we linger with a person grieving…a person who knows we love them.

I was reminded how sadness sometimes  overtakes us and it’s best confronted head-on in all its real…on-another’s-shoulder…Riley, tears spilling down her face, doesn’t hold back as she pours out her grief to her parents. As they cradle her into their arms they, too, confess their own sadness.  Then it happens…that last wet-faced shudder into Daddy’s chest; that deep sigh…all cried out.

That’s what we love about Disney/Pixar…and the God-given emotions of joy and sadness…especially when love is in the mix.

Inside Out and a Theology of Sadness – Josh Larsen, Think Christian

Many critics love Pixar’s ‘Inside Out.’ Not this guy.

Inside Out Quotes

All 15 Pixar Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best

Worship Wednesday – In the Hands of Our Redeemer, Nothing Is Wasted – Jason Gray

Blog - Nothing is Wasted - Worship Wednesday

 

I love the words of the old prophet Joel calling God’s people to repentance with the promise that He would restore the years destroyed by locusts. Read the passage (below) and allow rejoicing to take the place of regret… How thankful I am for the grace, mercy, and kindness of Almighty God.

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten… You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you;
and My people shall never be put to shame…I am the Lord your God
and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame.”                – Joel 2:12-13, 25a, 26, 27b

Jason Gray’s song Nothing Is Wasted is poignant in its message and melody. Listening to it takes me back to those years of locusts in my own life – years in my youth when I praised God on Sunday and went my own way the rest of the week. Truth be told, I was far from Him, taken in by the deceit of the world and the Evil One…and my own self-serving heart. How thankful I will forever be that God is such a great Restorer, a gentle Redeemer, and that, as Jason wrote, nothing is wasted in His hands.

As the years have passed since that time, I have seen God use those years of brokenness in my life to tender my heart toward others struggling with the pull of the world, drawing them away from God. Losses, failures, and disappointments abound in this world and can cloud our view of what is true about God and His Gospel. He wants to turn our “mourning into dancing” (Psalm 30:11), and He wastes nothing in doing so.

“There isn’t anything that happens that is beyond God’s reach to redeem. He gives us a place to bring our brokenness, our weakness, our sadness.” – Jason Gray
Blog Jason Gray
Whatever has happened in your past – whatever separates you from the hope and healing God desires for you – give it to Him. He alone is able to bear it. Then reach forward and upward…He is reaching out to you. I know…He reached very low for me, and I will love Him forever with the most grateful of hearts.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14
Worship with me…
Jason Gray, from the album A Way to See In the Dark
The hurt that broke your heart
And left you trembling in the dark
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie
But what if every tear you cry
Will seed the ground where joy will grow
(chorus)
Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted
It’s from the deepest wounds
That beauty finds a place to bloom
And you will see before the end
That every broken piece is
Gathered in the heart of Jesus
And what’s lost will be found again
(chorus)
Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted
(Bridge)
When hope is more than you can bear
And it’s too hard to believe it could be true
And your strength fails you halfway there
You can lean on me and I’ll believe for you
And in time you will believe it too
(chorus)
Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
Sometimes we are waiting
In sorrow we have tasted
But joy will replace it
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted