Oh sweet friend, just writing this post makes my heart feel pangs of sadness. Thinking about you makes tears run down my cheeks. I understand all too well as just a few years ago I was you. I was the girl who couldn’t find her Christmas, no matter where she looked. I was the girl with an empty, aching heart.
If thoughts of the Holidays cause you to feel sad and make you want to sleep until mid-January when every single trace of Christmas is gone, you’re not alone. I was right there with you.
Let me share my story.
A few years ago, as the Holidays approached, they felt different. I pushed it aside as much as I could, until the obvious was staring me straight in the face. I put up my tree, made handmade decorations, shopped till I dropped, baked cookies, watched Rudolph, burnt yummy smelling candles…and still nothing. I still couldn’t feel Christmas. Why couldn’t I FEEL it? I ran down the to-be-happy-at-Christmas checklist, put marks in all the boxes and I still wasn’t happy.
I was sassy. I cried. I was mean. I cried. I was sad. I cried. I was distant. I cried. I was heartbroken. I had myself a big ole’ pity party and cried more than I care to admit. Daily, I alternated between trying to talk myself out of it and justifying my feelings. Christmas was just so expensive and money was tight. I didn’t have any close friends to do fun Christmas stuff with. My dog was aging and couldn’t walk some days. The weather was yucky. There wasn’t any snow. I missed my Grandma who had passed away. My family didn’t get together anymore on Christmas Eve. I could go on and on.
My heart was just sad.
Christians are not supposed to be like this, especially not at the time of year when we are celebrating the birth of Jesus! We are meant to be shiny happy people radiating His love to all who pass us. We are to be beacons of light not sobbing over Christmas cookies.
We were celebrating Jesus entering the world just to die for us. And I was still sad. Which in turn made me feel guilty. That guilt then made me even sadder.
I’m going to be honest. I wish I could give you a magical cure, to offer words that would dry up your tears and heal your aching heart. What I found was no matter how much I tried to talk myself out of it, it was just a valley I had to walk through. And that was okay.
I realized that year that the sad, lonely, empty spaces in my broken heart are exactly what that Baby born in a manger came to fill.
Friend, if you’re hurting this holiday season…It’s okay to hurt.
People will, no doubt, tell you to just “get over it” and “move on”. And maybe you feel like you should be over it, but you just don’t know how to be. I want to tell you this…it’s okay.
If there is anything I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s this. When God leads you through a valley, don’t close your eyes. Keep them open as wide as you can. Along the journey, even in the midst of the valley, there will be beautiful blessings prepared just for you.
I promise you, some day you will find joy in the Holidays again. God has joy planned for you!! At first, it may come in a little smile here or there. Or you find yourself actually singing along to a Christmas carol. Embrace it! Smile. Laugh. Hug. Eat. Fellowship. And when the tears come, embrace them too. Cry over Christmas cookies if you need to. Be honest and brave.
Healing will come. Laughter will return. Joy will emerge from this dark season. A Holiday season will feel almost normal again.