This blog can speak to many people, but I am writing it for a specific audience…mainly because I’ve walked in their shoes. Holidays can be so joyous and filled with love, family and laughter. It’s a time to reflect on the many blessings God has given us. And boy does He give them, with both hands. But in life, there are also valleys we must walk. Roads that are dark and lonely. And the holidays can really make these valleys seem like endless chasms. My heart breaks for anyone who is facing the holidays with dread.
Regardless of the specifics, the common theme in everyone’s heart who is approaching the holidays with sadness comes down to one thing: Loss.
Loss is terribly crippling. It could be a loss of independence, a loss of a job, of health, of a relationship or just a loss of “what it was supposed to be like.”
Years ago, I sat looking at my Christmas tree with devastating sadness. It was my first Christmas as a single mom, and I was overwhelmed. With every ornament on my tree, there was a memory attached. It was bittersweet as I reflected on happy memories that seemed so far away. I remember looking at the ornament my grandmother gave me the first Christmas I was married. It made me miss her so much as I grieved the death of my marriage. I needed her so desperately my heart felt like it would burst. I saw ornaments I had made as a child and I ached for a time when my parents could fix anything; when all I needed to feel safe was to crawl into their laps. And I looked at
Pre-K handprint ornaments of my precious (at the time) 9-year-old who had been forced to deal with ugly realizations as her parents battled a blindsiding divorce. It was all ugly. My beautiful Christmas tree brought such bittersweet tears and I struggled to find the joy I once found in the celebration of my Savior’s birth. Despite my tears, I clung to this one verse:
‘The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
I prayed for God to draw near to me. I confessed my sin and weaknesses to Him and begged for protection of my heart and my daughter’s heart. And I refused to have anything but faith in my God. Faith that He would lead me through my valley and bless me through my trials. I also clung to another verse.
“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm
my great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the Lord your God,
and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.” Joel 2:25-32
I refused to believe it was the end of my story. And praise be to God, it wasn’t. Because it’s not the end of any of our stories. God has a plan and purpose for our lives. Sometimes we find ourselves knocked off guard and in a place, we never imagined we’d be. It can leave us scared and bitter. But please know, our God is bigger than our circumstance. He’s bigger than your broken family; He’s bigger than your unfaithful spouse; He’s bigger than your finances; and He’s bigger than your health. He is the creator of this universe and He will carry you through whatever grieves your heart this holiday. And remember this: There is joy in the pain. God is building your faith and has AMAZING things in store for you.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
Take our tears and turn them to joy. Help us not see the immediate in front of us, but have faith to know you are in control. Help us to find happiness, even in the valleys. Help us to feel you there, walking beside us. And help us to praise you as we celebrate your Son’s glorious birth. You are such a good God. Thank you for loving us so.