For many this is a joyful time. Family get-togethers and reunions with friends bring special joys to those celebrating the renewal of relationships. November and December provide "time" for such celebrations. Many long to be with family or special friends throughout the year. But ... life's daily demands in a society fueled by over-commitment rarely provide opportunity.

While for many it is a time of joy, others find it a time of intense loneliness. Intense loneliness comes to a person separated from family or friends he or she would love to see. A wide variety of "causes" keep some families apart. It is difficult to watch others enjoy their families when he or she cannot be with his or her own.

Intense loneliness comes to a person who lost a family member or special friend. For people who lost someone to death, the void is enormous. The emptiness can be overwhelming. An irreversible transition occurred, and everything about this season painfully reminds him or her of the loss.

Intense loneliness comes to a person who experienced marital separation or divorce. The season makes rejection's wound raw and sore. "Part time" visits with your own children are bitter-sweet. The silent questions will not stop: "What is wrong with me? Why can I not be loved? Why was I rejected?" It is not merely being alone. It is the void created by absence of relationship.

Intense loneliness can come to the person who paid the prices to "become healthy" by escaping the sickness of a seriously dysfunctional family. One of recovery's prices is awareness of things that never existed. Accepting "things that never existed" is painful. Accepting the cost of sick relationships in one's family of origin can be agonizing.

Thanksgiving day forty-three of us shared the joys of meal and friendship in the Family Life Center. For a variety of reasons, many of us could not be with our families. We enjoyed being family for each other.

Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve occur on Sundays. Our usual 6 p.m. assembly is scheduled Christmas Eve. On New Year's Eve, we will meet (6 p.m.) in the Family Life Center to praise God. After praise, our elders will share some personal encouragement. Everyone, please bring finger foods that evening. After our elders share, we will enjoy a finger food fellowship. Jerry and Meg Canfield, Ron and Debbie Belote, Curtis and Jean Jackson, and Mike and Missy Blasdel will host a New Year's Eve gathering for those who wish to stay. Anyone may stay or may leave to attend personal plans made for the evening.

May we be sensitive to everyone! Love from caring is powerful! Everyone has worth!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 3 December 2000

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