Maybe you’re having one of those years. (Maybe you’ve been having one of those years for a lot of years now.) You know, a year where you’d rather just skip Christmas. Not in a “Christmas with the Cranks” or “Ebeneezer Scrooge” kind of way. You’ve got nothing against Christmas, you just don’t feel like celebrating.
The holidays are a stark reminder of what you don’t have. Maybe you’ve lost a child, a spouse, a parent. And Christmas just brings fresh pain because of who’s not there. Maybe your marriage is in a bad place. Maybe it’s been there for a while. And seeing other “happy” couples just reminds you of everything your marriage is not. Or maybe depression or anxiety has descended on you like a black squid, it’s oppressive tentacles wrapping around your brain, driving you to reclusion. The last thing you want is be around people.
I know your pain. I’ve been there. Many times. I can remember several Christmases with family when I was so sad, I just laid on the floor and closed my eyes. I could hear everything going on around me, I just didn’t feel like participating. And if people assume you’re napping, they generally won’t bother you. (Unless they’re under the age of 10, then pretty much anything goes.)
In those years, I just wanted to “get through” Christmas.
So here’s 3 things God’s taught me to remember when Christmas isn’t merry.
You’re not alone. Depression, sorrow, discouragement are powerful emotions that make us feel quite alone. But the reality is this: God is with you. This of course is the miracle of Christmas. That God chose to come to earth in weakness and poverty. To be with us. And his final words before going home were this, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Even when I don’t feel His presence, He’s with me. He’s close to me.
I remember a time a few months ago when I was struggling with severe depression and I didn’t feel “close” to God at all. I didn’t feel like doing anything remotely spiritual. No Bible reading or prayers other than, “God help me.” It seemed like God was distant. And at a certain level, I felt like it was my fault. You know, I ought to be doing more. And in that season, God spoke something to me I hope I never forget. “I am close to you. And you are close to me. No matter what you feel, no matter what you do, I’m with you. I’m close to you.” God’s presence and proximity to me are not dependent on my performance, but on His promise.
You’re not alone. God has put people in your life for a reason. And one of those reasons is to be a comfort to you. It might be family. It might be a friend. It might be a group at your church. But you’re not alone. So let yourself be loved by those people. Let others comfort you. Let others see you cry. Don’t be ashamed of your pain. Don’t feel like you’re being a burden to them. Just be real. And let God bring comfort to you through the love of others.
You’re not alone. Others are suffering grief and loss this time of year too. So instead of thinking of Christmas as a time where you’re supposed to celebrating with others, look for someone else who’s struggling. And be with them. Cry with them. Look them in the eye and tell them you know how they feel. And it’s okay to be sad at Christmas. Scripture says, “To celebrate with those who are celebrating, and to mourn with those who mourn.”
That includes Christmas.
On Saturday, December 22nd at 5:00 PM, I’ll be teaching at a special worship experience for those who are hurting this time of year called Blue Christmas. It’s a service of comfort and hope for those who aren’t feeling so merry this time of year. It’s sponsored by “The Landing” and meets on the 2nd floor of the Lincoln Mill, 1300 Merdian Street N, Huntsville, AL 35801. You can get more details here.
I hope you’ll join me as we seek comfort together.