For me, it was 2004.
I stared at the blinking lights on our Christmas tree, almost in a trance like state. It wasn’t the colors or the tree. I was shell shocked at how fast my life had changed and how much those I loved suffered.
In a year we’d both had job changes. My husband’s job was such a transition we had moved 300 miles away. We knew no one.
We had a toddler recovering from a horrendous first year where we nearly lost her. She needed therapy several times a week on top of medical appointments.
My dad had passed away. When he got the diagnosis he knew the outcome even though for months he didn’t even appear sick. The strapping man who reminded me of John Wayne was gone.
I was having trouble finding reasons to get out of bed each morning.
This year has been full of heartbreak for so many I know online and in person. So much transition, sickness and death. Job loss, injustices. Broken marriages. Miscarriages. Widowhood. These are without looking at headlines. If so, there are families grieving from suicides. Shootings. Life seems full of bad news.
But the song says it’s the most wonderful time. How can that be? How can anyone celebrate the season when there is no feeling? When everything is numb and time feels frozen?
- I know for me, it helped to decorate. That was my way of not only remembering I had two children who needed the bright lights and Christmas music, it was also a statement. I was down, but I refused to be out. I felt like the devil’s plan was to destroy everything in and around me and if I gave in, he won. And even if it was one small thing I did to remember it was Christmas, I was bound and determined.
- I also thought of others. It wasn’t easy because I felt so lost inside myself. My favorite thing to do is to have blank cards and point to a random name in the phone book. I write something like, “You mean so much to God that I pointed to a name in a phone book to send a card and the person is you. You are not forgotten. You are loved. Have a Merry Christmas.” I don’t sign my name or leave a return address. I want them blessed, and it takes my mind off my situation to know I’m encouraging someone else.
- If I couldn’t take the upbeat Christmas music, I put praise music on. If the words, as Christian and Biblical as I needed them to be were heartbreaking to hear, I played instrumental music.
- I wish I’d been more honest. There were some events I shouldn’t have attended but didn’t want to let anyone down. Other times I isolated myself and should have said something. Keeping it all in wasn’t healthy and again, plays right into the enemy’s hand. You don’t have to air all your laundry, just say you’re struggling and can use prayer. And when someone offers, let them.
Since then I’ve had other difficult Christmas seasons but nothing close to that one in 2004. I think a lot of why I was able to bounce back a little faster was I applied the suggestions above and realized the pain had purpose. Hosea 2:14 has been my lifeline in dark times and I want my adversity to mean something and help someone else down the road.
My prayer is that if you’re struggling this Christmas, something here in this post helped you.
Father, let every person reading this post feel Your presence right now, and in the days and weeks to come. For every event and circumstance that has robbed them of peace and joy, replace it multi fold with blessings we can’t define. Give them special moments that are Your love notes just for them. Give them strength to celebrate Christmas, even if it’s in a different way this year. Draw them close to You. We give you the glory, honor and praise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.