Feeling Overwhelmed? Wander Under the Stars

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by Jamie Hughes |

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If you read my last column, you know that my Thanksgiving was eventful, to say the least. Well, it looks like Christmas is shaping up to be another banger. My father-in-law is back in the hospital, still trying to kick the infections that have knocked him flat recently. We had planned to spend a couple of days at their house to celebrate the holiday, but that proposal is up in the air at the moment.

We also lost both my husband’s grandfather and my great uncle Douglas in the last few months, and my grandmother isn’t feeling quite up to snuff, either. I tell you, between all the normal stresses of daily life, worries about the pandemic, health scares, and deaths, this year has been a very challenging one. I feel sort of deflated, a lot like that poor little tree in the Charlie Brown Christmas special when he hangs the big red ball on it — sort of droopy and weighed down by the world.

The presents are all purchased, wrapped, and waiting under the tree. Travel plans are made. We’re just counting down the days until it’s time to celebrate with family. But honestly, dear reader, I’m not really looking forward to Christmas this year. It’s hard to be cheery and tinsel-bright when your heart is aching and your soul is more than a little fearful.

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Finding Peace During the Holidays

But if there’s one thing life with MS has taught me, it’s how to live and move and have my being in a certain kind of tension — between the “what is” and “what can be.”

Maybe that’s why the folk carol “I Wonder as I Wander” has truly resonated with me this year. (If you’ve never heard the story behind the song, you can learn about it here.) The first verse reads as follows: “I wonder as I wander out under the sky/ How Jesus the Savior did come for to die/ For poor on’ry people like you and like I/ I wonder as I wander out under the sky.” It’s a pensive tune, one of the few Christmas carols set in a minor key, and every time I listen to it, I can’t help but slow down and breathe a little more deeply. It calls me to walk outside, to look, to ponder in silence.

The song somehow draws my eyes upward and helps me to see the bigger picture, the one that’s written in the stars. My problems seem almost insurmountable sometimes, but the sky is so much bigger and grander and altogether more beautiful. And what’s more, I know that the creator who made it all loves me and is with me no matter what. He tells me, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). I can cling to that until this season passes.

Yes, I feel like I’m drowning in worries and sorrows right now. Yes, it is hard to celebrate even something as wonderful as Christmas, and that’s OK. That’s life, and I shouldn’t discount my feelings. They’re not shameful and shouldn’t be shoved under the rug, out of sight. And neither should yours.

If you’re struggling this holiday season, tell someone. Find a person who will listen well and who can comfort you in your distress. And don’t forget to step outside into the cold evening darkness and look up at the stars. Let them center you and set your mind and heart to wondering about just how vast and lovely the world is. May it lift your spirits as it has mine. May you be blessed.

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

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