Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Holidays Expose the Heart

Today my family and I were out running some errands after my son’s basketball game.  As usual this time of year, my patience is tested with the crowds and the traffic. I was given evil stares as I made room for a man in his minivan to go by – even though HE was going the wrong way down the lane in the parking lot!

 I told my boys that this time of year brings out the best in some people, and the worst in others, depending on what’s in their hearts.

True intentions of the heart are often exposed during the holidays (due to the focus on family, friends, celebrations, and giving – all this coupled with stress, social and financial obligations, and sometimes dysfunctional relationships)

For example:

·         Generosity flows a little easier at Christmas, as people participate in a variety of different outreach programs. Whether it’s “Angel trees”, “Shoeboxes through Samaritan’s Purse”, donating to the “Salvation Army”, or just baking something extra for your neighbor - a lot of people live out the message “it is better to give than to receive”.

·         Selfishness is brought to the forefront, as witnessed on Black Friday when shoppers trampled one another to get a good deal.

·         Impatience is easily recognized as drivers, and long lines make the busiest of people do something they don’t normally do…WAIT.

But one secret of the heart that is often brought to light this time of year is depression.  Whether it’s due to loneliness, the loss of a loved one, absence, distance or division from family & friends, or financial stress…depression comes knocking on the door a little louder & clearer during the holidays.

My errands later led us to Wal-Mart. By this time, my husband and kids couldn’t take anymore – so they opted to stay in the car while I did my shopping.  When I returned, Bobby told me what he and the boys witnessed. 
A lady came out of the store, loaded up her groceries, got in her car, and laid her head in her hands and began to cry. They have NO idea what was upsetting this dear women!  By the time I came out of the store, she was gone.  Bobby didn’t feel at liberty to approach her by himself, but he said his heart really went out to her. 

Thankfully we can pray to a God who knows exactly why she was crying – AND knows exactly how to help her!

Interestingly enough, we just spent some time yesterday with two of our precious friends, discussing the topic of compassion verses pity.  As you see people hurting this Christmas, for whatever reason, make sure you offer them true compassion (which comes from the Holy Spirit) and not just pity. Compassion is usually backed by action – The Bible talks often about Jesus being “moved with compassion.” We don’t have the capacity in and of ourselves to have compassion, only pity.  Believe me, people can tell the difference!  The only person who appreciates your pity, is someone who insists on staying a “victim” and craves attention anyway they can get it. Otherwise, people want authentic/ genuine, from the heart, compassion! 
So keep your eyes, ears, and hearts open for those who may need some extra encouragement, fellowship, or prayer.  Ask God to fill you with His compassion and listen for how He might have you act it out.

1 comment:

  1. I never thought of it this way, but you're right--what's in our hearts is there always, something we can't hide even at Christmas. It slips out.