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Be Gentle with Yourself

Today’s Reflection

AFTER CHRISTMAS, people packed into Ms. Anne Thrope’s Coffee Club. They played chess and backgammon, talked about families and politics, and kept the staff busy. The previous week, people had been agitated due to shopping for last-minute Christmas gifts. We have the same pattern every year. Ms. Anne Thrope gets sad because the business is off, but she enjoys the conversations the week after Christmas.

This year was different. Ms. Anne seemed curt with customers and jumped on staff for small things she usually overlooked. …

“Ms. Anne, let’s take a break,” I said, nudging her toward the back room.

She shook her head and said, “Some days it isn’t worth coming to the shop.”

“We’re doing good business. Lots of customers. People want to talk, drink coffee, eat paklava (a Western Armenian word for pastry known as baklava), drink more coffee. It’s a good time. Here, let me make you some Armenian coffee.”

“Thanks, I could use a cup, but I don’t want my grounds read. It’s too much for me.”

“The customers are too much? It’s the season of good cheer. Enjoy it – they’ll be back to complaining soon. You do seem sad this year.”

“Always I remember William Saroyan. He was an old man when I knew him. He used to laugh – big laugh – and say silly things like ‘Everybody has got to die, but I always thought I would be an exception to that rule’ and he’d laugh so loud you had to laugh with him. …Now let me say that I’m healthy. But Christmas reminds me of Saroyan and other people who have died. I’m getting old. I remember family members who aren’t around. This year seems harder than usual. I didn’t really enjoy Christmas.”

“I imagine that you have good memories of Mr. Saroyan and many other people, Ms. Anne. That’s a gift.”

“Maybe, but it’s a hard gift. I saw an article online about post-Christmas sadness. That’s probably what I have.”

“I didn’t do everything I wanted to do. I didn’t do much at all. My kids came, but they seemed preoccupied before they arrived, and my grandson got sick the night before Christmas Eve. Pretty sad, he was,” she continued. “And nobody put a brand new car under my tree. Not that I wanted one, but it’s such a fantasy. So much fake stuff we expect to please us.”

“Sometimes we miss truth in front of us because we’re looking too hard at the past. But maybe that’s why we celebrate Christmas. To remember that God provides many gifts to each of us over a lifetime. To remember the birth of Jesus and what that means – because it is agift of love.” I was not sure if these words were right for the moment.”

“I know that. I’m tired and Christmas happened too quickly for me. Bang! It was gone! And somehow I feel like I missed it.”

“Be gentle with yourself, Ms. Anne. Christmas is hard on everyone because of all the expectations people have. You know – the perfect tree, the perfect decorations, the perfect meal, the perfect setting, the perfect gift. We get slammed by this illusion of perfection because none of us can pull it off, and it’s a long way from the birth of Jesus. You remember what Saroyan wrote in The Time of Your Life? I can’t quote it exactly, but he said to seek goodness and when you find it, bring it out of its hiding place. Sounds a little like Jesus and what he said about the kingdom of God and the mustard seed.”

“Sometimes you sound like a preacher. Not a very good one but okay. You make me laugh. You think I should be gentle with myself? Sure, why not?”

– George H. Donigian
In Days to Come

From pages 83-85 of In Days to Come: From Advent to Epiphany by George H. Donigian. Copyright © 2017 by George H. Donigian. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Be gentle with yourself. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

148:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
Psalm 148:1, NRSV

This Week: pray for those who are working more than one job. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Stephen (December 26).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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{ 10 comments… add one }

  • Jill December 27, 2017, 5:42 am

    I believe that time spent with my spiritual advisor has allowed me this grace of being gentle with myself. She has taught me to go ahead and experience the emotions that come, but to be sure to move on from them.
    Prayers for Julie’s continued recuperation from her leg injury. Prayers of gratitude that Marcy’s illness has not gone into pneumonia and that she has nurses that are assisting her in many ways. Andrea – prayers for continued wisdom and discernment in familial concerns. Mary – prayers for your folks and your assistant’s parent.
    Father – we bow before You with the concerns of our hearts, our loved ones. May Your Love wash over us. Indeed, from Its fullness we receive blessing upon blessing.

  • Louise December 27, 2017, 6:47 am

    I have a sigh in my home that reads, “Live every moment and Love with all your heart” Christmas Eve and Christmas Day brought family together. Love and excitement filled our home and I know God was at the center. We are far from a perfect family but we accept and love each other. We are blessed! Thank you God! Marcy I continue to prayer for your healing…bless you! Jill and Julie I pray for a safe and joy filled trip for both of you. Mary I pray for your parents and strength for you. Lou and Chloe I pray for both of you and your families. Andrea it is so hard to stay quiet when it comes to your children. I am not a grandparent yet but I am sure it is so hard to watch and not give advice. I pray for Gods peace to be with you. Robert you must be waking up to a very cold morning. I also live in New England and we woke to single digits this morning. Burr… I pray for all that struggle mentally, physically, and spititally. I pray that God will help me to be the best version of myself today. May God’s peace be with all of you here at UR.

    • Mary Ng Shwu Ling December 27, 2017, 10:41 pm

      Thanks so much Louise!

      Blessings

  • Andrea December 27, 2017, 7:38 am

    I had a Western Armenian grandfather so this reading is special. Sometimes, I need the reminder to be gentle with myself. When I recognize that I am being hard on myself, I see the importance of the teaching that God forgives us. We do not need to dwell in self-blame or self- criticism. We do not need to be perfect; we are human and we need to lean into the Everlasting Arms to help us. When we make a mistake, we can ask God to forgive us, to help us repair and move on. This is what Jesus taught us with his life.

    Thank you for your prayers, Jill and Louise.

    Blessings and prayers for dear UR friends and all who visit UR.

  • Julie December 27, 2017, 8:05 am

    I need to work on this concept. I am very hard on myself.
    Thankful for the prayers for travel. We are home safe. Thankful also for the continuing prayers for my knee, which is getting better each day. When to doctor who said it is a very minor sprain of ligament which should heal within several weeks. Can start excercising a little at a time in a little while.
    Praayers for each UR friend who posted a concern. All are written in my prayer journal.
    I truly value each one of you here and the support you offer. Thank you
    Blessings to all UR friends

  • Laurie December 27, 2017, 8:42 am

    Thank you for this Daily Reflection. I own a restaurant and this one could have been easily written about me this year. I read it just as I was on the way back to work after my Christmas break. I am struggling emotionally this year and this excerpt gave me some peace just reading it. So again, I thank you. Blessings from South Carolina. Laurie

  • Ju5 December 27, 2017, 9:55 am

    Welcome Laurie.
    Will add your concerns to my prayer journal.

  • Julie December 27, 2017, 9:56 am

    Above from me

  • Chloe December 27, 2017, 10:39 pm

    The “story” today, I loved it….so easy to be hard on ourselves, and not gentle….plan to try and take that advice to heart, will share w my jusband. Hoping everyone had a blessed Christmas holiday. I am thankful for all prayers lifted up for my daughter Paige and me, those worked, as she was kind at Christmas to me, thank you God. But if I may vent and ask for prayer, i was blindsided by our enemy’s work on Christmas with my other, younger daughter, Her dis-honoring attitude towards me that day, amongst other issues has taken such a toll. we are now hardly on speaking terms. she has so broken my heart. I need Gods guidance and strength to do the right thing regarding. prayers for all UR Moms that God will strengthen our hurting hearts. Teach us to number our days Lord, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. God bless everyone on this UR posting board with healing of bodies and broken hearts, amen

  • robert moeller December 29, 2017, 11:25 pm

    A clearer picture comes into view when we are able to read all of the reflections. So thankful that I can view earlier posts and reflections.
    Hang on to Christ and your Christmas will be full. Christmas is still with us, it is not just Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but lasts to the end of Epiphany.

    Good news about Julie’s knee, prayers for Chloe and her daughters. Do your best to keep talking to them even if hurtful words and actions come from them. Not an easy action to take and easier said than done, but it is what the Lord asks of all of us. Have witnessed a similar situation both between nations and in a family. Let it be the Lord who decides what the result will be.

    Yes, it’s cold in this part of New England, below zero at night, sometimes double digits. Thankful I’m warm.

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