Last night our Sunday night group went around the circle and “checked in”. That’s one of our ways of letting each other know how we are doing and helps us pray for each other in the upcoming week. We call it “SASHET” – we choose an emotion that matches one of the letters (Sad, Angry, Scared, Happy, Excited, Tender).
With this week being the official beginning of holiday season, many of us checked in as excited. We’re excited about the break in the normal routine. We look forward to spending extra time with family.
But in addition to excited, many of us added “tender” to describe how we feel (it’s not cheating to choose more than one word).
Tender. You may be thinking about that tender juicy turkey you’ll be feasting on later this week (or tender steak for those of you who break the tradition). But in this context, tender is a about a place in the heart that feels a little sensitive.
It’s like that bruise on the shin that is slow to heal, and still tender to the touch. But instead of the shin, it’s a tender place on the heart. And holidays touch that tender spot.
We all have different reasons for the tender spot. For some it comes from a sense of loss. A loss of someone we love. Or a loss of traditions because of changing seasons in a family. Or a loss of expectations that never will be. Things are just different.
Others feel tender because of struggles they face.Or struggles that others face who are close to them. And the hard times don’t go away just because it’s the holidays.
My own heart feels tender because I grew up with this holiday full of traditions, but now our family is in a season of transition (I wrote about that here a couple of years ago, and we’re still there). When I was young we shared turkey and dressing with around 100 at the Morris reunion. It took a few large turkeys to feed us all. Now the turkey I prepare is small. Mom won’t be standing in the kitchen telling me to add more water so the dressing’s not dry. And our family is so spread out around the world that it’s impossible to gather for a long weekend.
Maybe you can relate to “tender” as you enter the holiday season. You may feel excited about some plans you have, but there is still a sensitive place on your heart.
If so, I want to share with you two things we did at our house on Sunday night. It was helpful to me. Maybe it will help you too–
1. Acknowledge the tenderness–Sometimes there’s a social pressure to put on a happy face in the holidays and cover the tender places. Go ahead and acknowledge the tender place, and share it with someone you trust. It helped me to know that I wasn’t the only one feeling tender this week. It’s okay–and even good for us–to acknowledge the sensitive places. It doesn’t mean we’re all going to have long faces for the next month and be a killjoy wherever we go. I’m excited about our family time ahead and planning for some fun surprises. But I still feel tender.
2. Give thanks—I hate to sound cliché just because it’s Thanksgiving week. But our group spent time adding our own verses of thanksgiving to Psalm 136 and it was like salve to the soul. Gratitude is a healing ointment to the tender places that are still sensitive.
So even though you weren’t at our house on Sunday night, now you know how I “checked in”–excited and tender. What about you?
Yep, I’m excited. And yes, I’m tender.
Have a good Thanksgiving week!
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, His love endures forever.” Psalm 136