Thursday, December 18, 2014

When the Christmas season is not a joy -- OR -- How to make the best from the worst.

This is the season of joy, of perpetual hope! You only have to step outside, flip on the TV, or listen to the radio to be slapped in the face with the giddy happiness that is this time of year.


I'm not trying to sound cynical, but the unfortunate truth is that Christmastime is NOT always a happy time for all people. 

Life happens. Loved ones die. Jobs evaporate. Relationships fail. And yet, we're all expected to put on a happy face and press on. 

I've had a few unhappy Christmas seasons. The first was in 1996. That year we buried my mother on Christmas Eve. A few years later was another sad Christmas when it became clear that I was no long welcome among some people I had loved all my life. The concept of "betrayed and rejected" became sickeningly real. 

During those two Christmases my heart ached. I would have liked to run away from the pain. I recall watching my mother die, thinking, if only I could scoop her up in my arms and run away from death. Sometimes during grief our thoughts aren't logical. 

My children were young during those years. They expected and deserved a happy time, and so I dug deep and made Christmas. While I went through the motions, I prayed silently. I needed an anchor, a hope to cling to. And that's just what I received. 

I learned during the worst of times that faith sustains. And if faith could sustain me, it can do the same for you. 

Are you heartbroken? Does the season of joy feel joyless? It is the season of perpetual hope! God never promised to make your challenges and heartaches disappear, but He did promise to be with you, always. His promise can hold your world together. I know that to be true. 

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! ~Isaiah 26:3

Trust God. You can rely on Him. 

If you know someone who is having a difficult Christmas, please look them in the eyes and tell them you're sorry for their pain. Let them know you see them amid the glitter and lights of a season that's mostly darkness for them. Squeeze their hand. Say a prayer over them. 

When your heart aches you can feel alone, even in a crowd. Reach out to the lonely and brokenhearted. Don't force them to act as if their heartache isn't real because grief is real. 

Sometimes the best gifts cannot be found beneath the sparkling Christmas tree. Let your gift be friendship, kindness, hope, and prayer. 

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