Finding Hope and Peace in the Midst of Christmas Blues
Rev. Perry Wiggins, III
Senior Pastor, Counselor
NBA Mental Health Initiative: Hope for the Holidays and Winter Seasons of Our Lives
I love the season of Advent. I always look forward to the Christmas season, this season of family gatherings, of church Christmas programs, and of hearing Christmas songs being played in the mall and throughout the city. This season of hope, joy, peace, and expectations seems to always lift me up and warm my heart.
However, as a pastor I also know that this isn’t a season of celebration for everyone. There are many who do not have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. This isn’t a season of joy, happiness, expectations, and celebration for them. We have friends, family members, neighbors, and even those in our churches who, for various reasons, do not experience this wonderful Christmas joy, but overwhelming Christmas blues.
Years ago, four months before Christmas, I lost my dad to an unexpected heart attack. I was 15 years old at that time, and this was a shocking and overwhelmingly painful episode in my young life. My mother and all of my siblings were heartbroken and devastated as well. And to add to my pain, about three weeks later I was leaving my family to go to a boarding school several hundred miles away. All of this while still dealing with this great loss in my life. At the end of my first semester, I could not wait to get home for the Christmas season.
Though I was very happy to be home with family and friends that Christmas, something—and someone—was missing. Yes, it was Christmas, but with my dad’s absence, Christmas just wasn’t Christmas that year. Over the years, the pain went away and Christmas became that special, inspiring, uplifting and most wonderful time of the year again. But this was a long and difficult journey for me because I spent several years grieving my dad’s death. I didn’t share this deep pain with anyone except my wife.
As I looked back over my life I came to realize that grief counseling would have been helpful for me. However, I did spend a lot of time in prayer. I have said before that during those immediate years after my dad’s death that I have never felt the calming and intimate super presence of my God and Savior like I felt during that time. God pulled me through!
The experience of losing my dad helped me to realize that with prayer, supportive loved-ones, intentionally sharing your feelings, and having the loving presence of God in your life, that even in our deepest state of pain and despair we can know that God’s grace is always sufficient. And this grace will give you hope and peace during this season and at all times in your life. During this sorrowful and painful experience in my life I received and still receive inspiration and confidence from the encouraging words of David: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning!”
Rev. Perry Wiggins III has been pastor of Alameda Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Nashville, TN, for 12 years. He has been employed by Oasis Center for 23 years. Rev. Wiggins has been married to his wonderful wife, Lillie, for 45 years. They have two sons, a daughter-in-law, and two beautiful granddaughters.
With hopes to support the prioritization of mental health and wellness in the life of the church, the NBA Mental Health Initiative aims to establish the necessary awareness and understanding required to counter stigma and change the landscape of conversation regarding mental illness and disorders within the church. Learn more at www.nbacares.org/mental-health.