The holidays are upon us, which means eating and caroling and ugly sweater parties. The malls are crowded and you (like me) might be wondering how to fit Christmas shopping in with all the activities you already have planned. Everyone is happy and cheery and excited—or so it seems.
Imagine we’re high in the sky in a hot air balloon, overlooking a neighborhood filled with holiday cheer. Let’s zoom into one of the houses where you’ve gathered with your friends for a fun Christmas event. (We’ll say it’s an ugly sweater party).
Inside we hear laughter and talking and Bing Crosby singing White Christmas. The smell of cinnamon and Christmas cookies greets us. But then we glance to our left, next to the Christmas tree in the corner, and a girl is standing there alone. Her ugly sweater isn’t special. She’s not talking with anyone. She’s not even smiling. We could go talk with her, but . . . everyone else is so much happier. They’re having such a good time, and Christmas only comes once a year. Why leave the fun right now? You want to enjoy yourself. You can talk to her after Christmas.
Then she’s gone. You hear whispers among your friends about family problems or mental health problems or the fact that she was bullied at school. Maybe all of this contributed to her taking her life, but you can’t help but shake the one thought: What if I had walked over and said hello? Would it have changed things?
I hate to bring the Christmas mood down, but let’s talk reality for a minute. You never know what someone’s really going through. That person who’s happy all the time? They may be secretly struggling because their parents are splitting up. The girl who comes to the party but fades into the corner? She may be struggling with depression that no one knows about. That solid guy at small group? He may be wrestling with doubts about whether God is really good because of a tragedy in his life. You just never know. With that in mind, let’s pause to consider: what if you and I reach out to the person standing in the corner?
Jesus + One Lonely Man
In Luke 19:1–10, Jesus meets a short man named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a tax collector, which means his neighbors wouldn’t have been his friend. The Bible tells us Zacchaeus had lots of money (v. 8). He always had power. We might have looked at him and thought, “Hey, he’s got plenty of money, plus he’s an insider with the ruling government. What’s he got to complain about?” Inside though, Zacchaeus wasn’t okay. He was probably lonely. We see in the story that other people didn’t like him (v. 7). Jesus looked past Zacchaeus’ facade of having it all together and reached out to him. He went to eat at Zacchaeus’ house. As a result of that encounter, Zacchaeus gave away half of his possessions and restored money to anyone he had stolen from.
Here’s my point. Zacchaeus wasn’t popular. He wouldn’t have even been invited to the ugly sweater party, and inside, he was hurting. He needed Jesus, but no one, including Zacchaeus, knew the change that Jesus would bring.
When you and I talk to someone at the party, no matter if it’s the most popular person or the lonely person in the corner, let’s share the love of Jesus through our words and actions. Include the person standing in the corner. Go talk with them. Invite them to be on your team. Laugh with them and get to know them. When the love of Jesus infects us and those around us, lives will be changed. And isn’t that the real reason for the season? The goal isn’t just to fill our days with good feelings, but to remember the hope that Jesus brings and to share that hope freely with others, especially those who are hurting, lonely, and dealing with doubts.
We don’t know what someone is going through, but Jesus does. He’ll give you the right words to say. It’s up to you and me to take the step towards the person in the corner.
Merry Christmas, LYWB.com readers! It’s a privilege to share words and stories with you on this blog, and our team cannot wait to keep writing to you in 2020—but we need your help to keep identifying lies and replacing them with God’s Truth! The Lies Young Women Believe blog is donor funded. (Did you know that?!) If you’ve been encouraged through this ministry, would you consider supporting us by giving a few dollars? You can learn more about our year-end needs here.
Thank you, readers! We are honored to seek Jesus with you.
— Samatha Nieves, Lies Young Women Believe blog content manager