By Crystal Ham
Full disclosure, this time of the year has not been the easiest for me over the last few years. The fall and winter seasons bring many emotions with them, including grief, happiness, love, and sadness. Around this time, I always think about people in my life that I’ve lost, particularly my grandfather, uncle, and aunt. I usually miss them a little more around the holidays, but I’ve begun to process grief and love from a different lens.
As some of you reading may know, I began seminary several years ago, but I had to step back from my studies at the time. Surprise! – I’m back, and I am so humbled and thankful to be completing my degree.
During my time away from studies, I experienced immense defeat but also personal growth. Viewing life from a different perspective is sometimes one of the most difficult things that one has to do.
While I took a break from my studies, it was a period in my life where I did not think life would ever get better—I thought my life was over, but praise be to God, it wasn’t. I knew that I let everyone in my life down, but there was grace and forgiveness. I thought I was literally going to die, but God saved me. Hope exists because we are here and alive. My grandaddy used to tell me, “As long as you’re breathing, there is hope.”
I offer this perspective and reframing of grief and love as an encouragement that you are surviving. You can do this, you are loved, and you have a purpose. When I was lost in my head, heart, and life, I couldn’t focus through or past the fog to see the lights. Those lights were family, strangers, friends, creation, and particularly God, to name a few. The lights were shining so bright, but I could not connect.
I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone—I just couldn’t make it to the lights.
What I know is that in those moments of deep depression or anxiety that I was lost in, I was literally not able to even glimpse past where I was. I felt like I was sinking into a raging sea. I could not imagine that anything would ever get better or process anything good around me. I could not overcome the fog to see the lights, nor was my intention to cause immense pain for the ones that I love.
What I know is I could not put one foot in front of the other. I was not in a place or mindset to begin to accept help. I wanted to, but I could not do it.
I do not even remember how and why I got in that frame of mind to begin with. But I do know that I needed help from God to find the strength to push through the fog and see the lights. Even when I was finished with myself, God said, “Get up, I’ve got your back.”
So, during this holiday season, during this COVID pandemic, I would encourage you to just keep going, keep hoping, and keep loving each other. Together, we will make it through this, day by day, moment by moment, one step at a time. God will see us and help us through the darkest of times. In the meantime, we hold on to hope, knowing that with God and each other, we can push through the fog and face the LIGHT!
Crystal Ham is a CBF Leadership Scholar and second year Master of Divinity student at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary and is completing field education at Emmanuel Baptist Fellowship in Columbia, S.C. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue hospital chaplaincy, prayerfully and thankfully combining her experiences in nursing, counseling, theology, and life.