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Love the crazy

Originally Appeared in : 9826-12/20/18
I went through a few days recently where every conversation seemed to focus on people I know struggling with major problems. A loved one dealing with poor health, someone struggling with addiction. There were relationships that were strained, people who were just difficult to deal with, and good folks making choices that made life harder than it needed to be.
 
I started feeling like everything was wrong in the world, that all these situations needed my attention, my energy, my worry. It wasn’t that I demanded perfection from everyone around me. (I’m finally learning none of us has that as an option.) But it hurt my heart to see people suffering, people I love who were struggling so much.
 
Life is hard. It’s hard for all of us from time to time, and depending on what you have going on around you perhaps life is really hard for you right now. Maybe someone you love is struggling — either through rotten circumstances or his or her own bad choices.
 
Either way, it can be painful to watch.
 
All of these thoughts and interactions were swirling in my head and heart on the runway towards Christmas. Here I was in these weeks before the wonderful holiday season, that time when we gather with family while also, unfortunately, sometimes having an unrealistic desire for everything to be perfect.
 
Who knows why the holidays bring out this feeling. Maybe because there are so many opportunities to try (and fail) at getting it all just right. We strive for the right tree, the perfect decor, the exact gifts everyone wanted — all while aiming for every interaction to be jolly and wonderful.
 
That’s not life in ordinary time, and it certainly can’t be life during the holidays either. It’s just not realistic to have everything perfect, in the details of life and in dealing with other people.
 
In the midst of all these thoughts and the temptations to feel defeated and overwhelmed, I had this sense of God’s great love for each of us, his poor, wounded people. He sees past our brokenness and fear and worry and lack. And because he does that for us, we have the freedom to love that way as well.
The holidays are hard because sometimes we have to come face to face with crazy. We might have to encounter the crazy of our family, the people we love so much. But we also have to deal with our own crazy, the wounds and insecurities we have that come to light when we deal with people around us.
 
It can be hard.
 
But remember this.
 
The crazy and the wounded and the hurting are so close to the heart of Jesus. He wants you to remember that. When you deal with people in your family who drive you nuts, Jesus is there. When you deal with people who you feel bring out the worst in you, Jesus is there. When you worry about people who aren’t doing as well and you want to fix them, Jesus is there.
 
Jesus is in the midst of every situation, and he loves those people so much. Oh how he loves us.
 
We can’t look at everyone as a problem to fix but as a person to love. We love those around us, and we give these people to Jesus. He loves them so much more than we ever could.
 
As we go throughout these days of dealing with so many people around us — some of whom are carrying real burdens and dealing with real problems — don’t be tempted by discouragement. Love those people. Remember how much God loves them. Encourage them and be kind, and remember that God has a plan for each one of us, and that he isn’t finished with any of us.
 
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles,” says Psalm 34:18-19. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
 
We love extravagantly because we have been extravagantly loved.
 
Rachel Swenson Balducci is a freelance writer and member of Most Holy Trinity Church, Augusta. She can be reached at rsbalducci@diosav.org.
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