Battling the Post-Holiday Blues

We were only a few days into 2020, when a dear friend and I shared an honest conversation about the melancholy that followed the new year. We were both battling the “post-holiday blues.” We both had plenty we could list as reasons to be thankful, even happy—but we were both fighting for joy, and kicking against the darkness that was crowding out any thanksgiving mindset.

Have you struggled a bit since we started this new decade?

Have you already felt the blow of shame for not doing enough? Not keeping those resolutions? Not exercising enough? Reading enough? Working hard enough? Just not being . . . enough?

Are you a bit disappointed with the way the new decade is going now that we’re almost a month in?

I think one reason the melancholy fog descends so quickly after the new year is that we anticipate a new day, a new start, a new something that will be different. And better. And wonderful. And when that doesn’t happen, we’re left disappointed and maybe even a tinge cynical.

Maybe this doesn’t apply to you. I was once oblivious to any kind of “post-holiday blues” or any other kind of blue days for that matter—until a few years ago. And now, it’s something I realize I may have to battle every year. There is something about loss that triggers a peculiar sadness during seasons that once held such simple joys in our childhood.

This year was especially hard because we ended December, and 2019, so full of hope for LeRoy’s physical improvement. He was actually getting more mobile and it seemed like he was learning how to cope with the pain. So, I think both of us kind of had this unspoken imaginary dream of him waking up on the first day of January and being back to normal and pain free.

But instead of normal and pain-free, the first three weeks of this decade have been brutal for him. He’s in that cycle again of intense burning pain, coupled with excruciating muscle spasms, that both wear him down and rob him of sleep. He’s just so weary.

It’s hard when the pain and losses of the old year worms its way into the new. And hope becomes a mocker rather than a friend. It’s hard when every day is overshadowed by unending affliction. It’s hard when loss lives at your doorstep and just doesn’t seem to let up.

But, there is one thing I’ve found to be a true consolation—praying with a kindred-hearted friend. So, with the dark shroud threatening to take us both under that Sunday afternoon, my friend and I stopped talking about the blues and, miles away from each other, knelt together with our cell phones providing a heart connection for prayer. We went to battle together against the post-holiday blues!

And by the end of our prayer time, everything changed. Everything in our hearts, that is. Nothing changed about our circumstances. Nothing outwardly improved or was resolved. But in the heavenlies, our prayers were heard, and in our hearts, our focus shifted upward, and we were once again brought into the presence of the One who calls us to follow Him. The One who never promised us it would be easy, this cross-embracing life of discipleship, but did promise to go ahead of us and walk with us all the way (Matthew 16:24—25).

I encourage you today, if you’re struggling, especially if you’re in a long season of emotional depression—reach out to a mature believer and ask for prayer. Don’t just ask for them to pray for you, but ask if they will pray with you, and allow you to pour out the need of your heart with them. That is one way of living out the action of bearing one another’s burdens.

And the next time someone mentions to you that they’re having a difficult day, that the holidays were hard, or the “new year” fills them with dread rather than hope . . . please listen to them and offer to bear that burden with them by coming alongside them in prayer. Be a good friend by “wrestling” for them in prayer.

“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus . . . is always wrestling in prayer for you, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in the full will of God” (Colossians 4:12).

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