I shared my personal story this week on the Encouragement for Real Life podcast regarding the Christmas season when it was not “the most wonderful time of the year.” That season was the most terrible time of my life. I buried my mother, and my best friend, just five days before Christmas. You can find that episode 19 here. That year was anything but a merry Christmas.
Goodness. Today I think back to that year and my heart aches with heaviness for how difficult that Christmas was. I understand what it’s like to walk through grief and loss in a season that makes no room for it. Everyone was happy it was Christmas. Everyone, that is, but our family. I honestly hated that it was Christmas.
I also had lots of questions directed toward God.
“Why did Mom have to die during the Christmas season?”
“Why did You take her now? You could have taken her anytime, but now?”
“What am I supposed to do without her now?”
“Will I ever have a merry Christmas again?”
“Who is going to be my springboard, the one who understands me, the one who helped me be who I am today?”
“And how am I going to get through the next moment, let alone the next breath?”
It’s okay to ask God questions. In fact, I think it’s a good thing. He already knew I was thinking them, so why not ask? He didn’t answer them right then, but over time He did.
Friend, I’m sorry if you’re dealing with grief and loss this holiday season. I’m so very sorry for your pain and your heartache. I understand it all too well. It was fifteen years ago yesterday when Mom took her last breath on this earth. The anniversaries come and sometimes we can’t help but relive the memories of the last moments, the last goodbyes, the last conversations. Yet, I thank God for the memories. The good ones outweigh the bad ones. What would we do without the wonderful memories to carry with us, close to our hearts?
There’s no sure-fire way to deal with grief and loss.
There’s no magical formula. If you’ve experienced it, you know that. The only thing I could do with mine was to trust God with it, and ask Him to help me carry it. It was too heavy for me to bear. Much of that season and the days that followed were a blur. I don’t have many memories of that time. But God carried me though it. And slowly I emerged with bandages on my heart that would forever remain.
I’m reminded of a verse that I understand very well today. I appreciate how The Message translation states it:
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.2 Corinthians 13:3-4 (MSG)
I couldn’t begin to understand how walking through grief during the holidays was so difficult until I experienced it myself. I felt bad for those who had lost loved ones during the Christmas season, but I could not relate to their pain. Now I can. I wouldn’t wish my experience or heartache on another, but I now know how it feels to carry the weight of grief and loss at Christmastime.
I know how it feels to not have a merry Christmas.
That’s why it’s so important to understand the true meaning of the holiday. So, even if the circumstances that surround us (or envelop us) make it anything but a merry Christmas, we can still appreciate Christmas for what it is. You know? It’s not about what we make it about. It’s all about Jesus. I shared this in this week’s podcast episode how the real meaning of Christmas that year became a priceless gift to me. Because of Jesus I will get to see Mom again some day.
So even though my heart was breaking that Christmas, I was able to embrace Christmas and it’s promise. And it’s been incredibly special to me ever since.
Call me strange, but I believe it’s okay if you don’t have a merry Christmas.
Of course we’d all love to have one. We all want a merry Christmas, right? But sometimes it’s okay to just take the pressure off. And to allow Christmas to be uncomplicated, unartificial, and unfussy. To be okay with feeling however you feel. Now, the world won’t say that, but that’s okay.
No matter if it’s merry or not, Jesus is with us. He is Immanuel, God with us. He’s with us in the highs and He’s with us in the lows. He is with us when we’re sad, depressed, and lonely, and He is with us when we’re happy, excited, and feeling loved. He’s also with us in grief and loss, as well as in contentment and blessing.
And that’s what truly matters this season. He is with us.
Please take care of yourself if you’re grieving this holiday season. Please be kind to yourself. Give yourself rest. Stay hydrated. Pray. Read God’s Truth. Draw near to Him. Allow yourself to grieve and cry and be sad. It’s okay. Allow yourself to just be. And remind yourself God is with you. Not just this season, but in every day. Allow Him to carry the burden you cannot.
He heals those who have broken hearts. He takes care of their wounds.Psalm 147:3 NIRV
I am praying for each of us today, who are missing loved ones this Christmas. If I can pray specifically for you, please contact me here, or leave a comment below. You are not alone in your pain. You are loved and cherished by God and me.
Thank you for being here today.
Much love to you,