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Author: Julie Simpson
December 12, 2018
Nothing increases the darkness of the heart like being surrounded by joy you feel unable to reach. This time of year, it’s almost as if everyone has an obligation to feel happy, so when you don’t, it makes that sadness even deeper.
Maybe the fact that others are surrounding themselves with family during the holidays reminds you of someone you won’t be seeing this year, and their absence aches like a wound. Maybe you feel alone, like you have no one to celebrate with. Or maybe you’ll be surrounded by people, but know you’ll still feel alone because no one can understand the pain in your heart.
I’ve had several Christmases like that. Here are some things that have helped me, and might help you too:
1. Don’t suffer alone.
Tell someone, anyone, how you are feeling this holiday season. You might have a relative or friend you feel comfortable sharing with. Perhaps you don’t, or feel like you need more than just a listening ear. Our church provides a wonderful counseling service through The Ecumenical Center on Tuesdays from 3 to 8 pm. You can pick up a card with their info at Information Central in the church lobby.
Our pastors also care deeply for those suffering in the midst of this holiday season. You can always contact Matt Snellings, Community Life Pastor, at email@example.com or (830) 981-8989 ext. 1053.
2. Don’t burden yourself with guilt in addition to your feelings.
All of us go through difficult times, and it’s a statistical probability that some of those times are going to happen over the Christmas season. You are already carrying a heavy burden; don’t also load yourself down with guilt that you aren’t filled with “Christmas spirit.” Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (v. 4). Maybe this year is your time to mourn and weep. Don’t let the sugary-sweet sentimentality of our Hallmark Christmas movie culture make you feel as if you are some sort of Scrooge if you don’t feel happy over the holidays. Our God and your church understand that happy holidays aren’t always the reality.
3. Remember that real Christmas hope came in the midst of deep darkness.
And on that note: recognize that Christian Christmas hope and joy do not come from the same place as the “positive vibes” purported by the wider culture of Christmas. As Christians, we recognize that the baby Jesus came into the midst of deep darkness: the darkness of sin, the darkness of the subjugation of Israel, the darkness of a people who had lost sight of God. So if you feel depressed over your inability to “get in the spirit” of Christmas, remember that Jesus didn’t come to give us happy, warm fuzzy feelings over lights and decorations and cookies. He came to die in order to save us from the horrible darkness of being separated from God forever, from the darkness and misery that sin has inflicted upon the world. Look to Him and bring him your pain. It is not contrary to Christmas. It is exactly why He was born.
Don’t suffer alone, and don’t feel guilty for your pain. You have a God who loves you. Be honest about your emotions before Him and with your church family. Look to the Light of the World, the only one able to shine into our darkest nights.
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