The holidays are under the most normal of circumstances a mixture of joy, celebration, and stress. It is rare that Christmas comes and goes in any heart without conflicting emotions – “how will I ever get everything done in time” ... “You invited HOW MANY for Christmas dinner????”
But, statistics show that depression peaks during the holidays, too. And, it’s no wonder that many of us, having experienced a deep betrayal in our marriages, sometimes look at Christmas as a reminder of all that we’ve lost rather than to celebrate God’s precious gift of His Son. Memories of Christmas Past dance through our heads – the sweet innocence of our first Christmas together, family gatherings in blissful ignorance of what secrets were being kept – for many of us, the memories are forever charred and ruined. How on earth can we face what is supposed to be a joyous celebration when our hearts are dying inside us ... when it feels as though winter’s frost has invaded our very being?
I know as a born and bred codependent, I would throw myself into the business of “doing” – preparing, wrapping, writing cards, shopping – all the while resenting it. I would plaster on my best smile to attend holiday parties, family gatherings, and church services when more than anything else in the world I wanted someone to care enough about me to see past all the glitter and notice the pain in my eyes. I would get so tired of pretending to be filled to the brim with holiday cheer, laughing and playing along when old times are recalled by others with glee that are simply a sharp reminder to me of betrayal and infidelity.
Does this sound familiar? Perhaps this year, we need tidings of comfort when all else seems hollow. There is One who sees past our masks, and cares enough to reach out and offer us comfort that leads to joy. He says, “Come unto me all who are weary, and I will give you rest!” Drop the masks. Forget the holiday routine. It’s ok. This Christmas, let yourself receive. Connect with someone you trust and can be real with, and talk about how you are really feeling. Let them give you the gift of listening. Let them be Jesus’ hands and feet to you, to remind you of why He came. He did not come so that we could continue to be lost in the darkness and pretending there was light, but to be our Light. He wants us to give him nothing but what we have to give, and sometimes, that’s our pain, our disappointment, our anger, our grief, and our shattered memories and dreams. In exchange, He will give us comfort and joy. It may not happen over night, and it might not be the best Christmas ever, but it will be a start of healing and letting go of the past, and looking forward, not behind.
I wish you a Christmas of comfort that leads to joy. May you experience the gift of Jesus this year.