Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Post Manger Stress Syndrome

Post Manger Stress Syndrome (submitted by Kerry Patton)
"The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.”  Luke 2:20 NAS
Now What?
I can’t help but wonder…What kind of post manger let down might Joseph and Mary have experienced?  The birth of the Messiah is now past, and it must have been all an enormous build up.  From the Angel appearing to Mary, and later Joseph, to the journey to Bethlehem to be counted in the census, to the birth itself, and the arrival of the shepherds to kneel and worship their newborn baby.  WOW, what a journey!

So, now it’s a day or two later.  The angelic hosts have returned to heaven, the shepherds have made their way back to their flocks, and the owner of the manger needs his space back for horses, sheep, and cattle.  Now Joseph and Mary have a very needful newborn child that must be cared for…and at some point, they must make a six-mile trip from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, so Jesus can be presented at the Temple on the eighth day.  

They have seven days to get there, so there is no real rush, but to keep things in perspective, Mary gave birth…YESTERDAY…and they have no means of transportation other than their own feet, and the donkey she rode there on.  Then there is the baby - Those swaddling clothes now need frequent changing, and I imagine they had to stop the donkey periodically, so the baby could nurse.  This was a bit of a big deal…and it must have been an ordeal.  I’ve been a new parent four times, and while you learn a lot along the way, even for a veteran parent, those stretches of sleeplessness, cholic, or diaper rash, can be very difficult…and lonesome for a couple.  The Bible account is silent on these matters, however in my imagination, this could have been a very hard time for Mary and Joseph.

For many of us, the days following Christmas can be very difficult.  The bills of the new year begin to arrive, and the bank account may not yet have recovered from our pre-Christmas shopping.  Perhaps everyone leaves, and we find ourselves suddenly all alone again.  Friends and family move back into their own routines, and a sense of belonging and purpose may feel fleeting.  Memories of lost loved ones, or broken relationships may bring about grief and sadness. Depression, anxiety, loneliness…these are not uncommon emotions for us to wrestle with following “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Recognize the potential for the post-holiday blues to occur and become intentional about heading them off. Here are some ideas that may help:
1. Reach Out.  If you feel loneliness or isolation setting in, seek out relationships through your faith family, community friends, or other social venues.  Volunteering your time may be uplifting and foster new relationships. Be open with friends and family about your need for connection in this season so they can become intentional about connecting with you too.  If you don’t have a church class fellowship connection, this is an excellent time to make one.  Call the church office if you would like assistance in choosing.
2. Make Plans.  Fifteenth century poet Geoffrey Chaucer is credited by some with the phrase: “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”  What he actually wrote was: Doothsomme goode dedes that the devel, which is oureenemy, ne fynde yow nat unocupied." Tale of Melibee.  Nevertheless, find things to do.  It is the unoccupied mind that often becomes fixated on the sadness of a current situation.  Get up and do something, go somewhere if you are able.  Don’t just shut down and allow emotion to overtake you.
3. Get Help if needed.  Listen, if you are loading up a bag with goods and see that it might break, you double bag or move to a stronger container.  If your mind or spirit is burdened or overloaded with emotion or trouble, get some help!  Talk to someone.  Myself and our other Pastoral Care ministers are here to serve you with situations just like this.  Here is my phone number if you need me: 817-480-2002.  Or call the church at 817-599-8612.

Oh Lord Jesus, we know that you understand how hard life can be.  You struggled to the point of sweating drops of blood!  Help us then Savior, should we begin to fall into despair, loneliness, loss, or fear as we adjust back into normal life now that the holidays are over.  Work within us the will to press through and reach out, to connect with your Spirit, and with our friends and family.  And help us to be aware of others who struggle deeply during times like these.  In your name I pray, Amen.

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