Starting earlier than ever, it was October 26 when Hallmark started airing original Christmas movies this year. Even before that, they were rerunning the old ones. And just like the meme says,
Yep, I’m a Hallmark junkie. I mean how can you not love a movie that has no profanity or really any objectionable content, but plenty of Christmas decorations and lights, and always has a happy ending?
Only the other day while I was watching a movie, my thoughts started turning to all of the people who won’t have a happily-ever-after Hallmark holiday this year. Specifically, I was thinking of several families who’ve experienced traumas this year that have permanently altered their lives.
For them, the miracle didn’t come on this side of Heaven. Instead, there will be an empty chair at their table. Some got a bad diagnosis’. Others lost jobs. Some prayed and prayed for a relationship to be healed and yet it doesn’t look like the answer is coming this holiday, if ever.
These are the stories we don’t watch on television. Yet, they are far too real.
What do you do if you find yourself in this situation?
As someone who has experienced many painful heartbreaking holidays, I have some thoughts. I hope they help you to find peace and comfort in this holiday season—-maybe even a little joy. Here we go:
1. Remember that you are not alone.
One thing we forget during the holidays is that all of the things that make Hallmark movies magical really have nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas is that Deity took on humanity so that He could die for all of our sins and restore our relationship with God.
Matthew 1:23 says it this way, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel” (which means “God with us”).
The promise that God is with us wasn’t just for the people in the Bible, it holds true for us today. It is especially true for you if your heart is breaking this Christmas season.
Psalm 34:8 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
The truth is that God is not distracted by all of the hustle and bustle and bright lights of the holiday season. Instead, His eyes and His heart are focused on you. He wants to be your comfort, your peace, and the source of strength that helps you through not only this season, but all of the seasons in your life. Even if you feel like the world is having a party to which you weren’t invited, I promise you that you are not alone.
God is right there with you—helping you, carrying you and loving you through this time. Forever and always He is “Immanuel”—God with us—-more importantly, God with YOU.
2. It’s Okay to be Sad
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 says, “There is a time for everything. A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
Yet for some reason, when the holidays roll around, we feel intense pressure to be “happy” and push our true feelings aside. While I, personally, have always tried to avoid being the person who plays the victim or spoils other people’s celebrations, I’ve also learned the importance of allowing myself time to grieve.
It’s alright to cry. It’s okay to be sad. It’s not only ok—it’s perfectly normal. We do ourselves a disservice when we try to ‘ignore and override’ our emotions just because it’s Christmas. The truth is that Christmas heightens emotions and it isn’t healthy to ignore them. Instead, we need to allow ourselves to feel them. Cry. Be Sad. Talk about the things that are bothering you. Most importantly, share your heart with Jesus so that He can help you heal from the inside out.
3. Embrace Change
One of the biggest lessons that Jamie and I had to learn as we went through many holidays that were far from Hallmark, is that clinging to tradition and insisting that everything has to be the way it always was tended to cause more pain. Instead, we’ve learned to find freedom and joy in embracing change and shaking the holidays up a bit.
Going hand in hand with this is the truth that there’s no “right” way to celebrate Christmas. If you can’t do something or it hurts too much, you don’t have to do it. If an activity creates memories are just too painful or too overwhelming, don’t worry about it. Find a new way to celebrate.
Start a new tradition. Maybe just avoid tradition altogether. Try something new. Be creative and see if it doesn’t make the holidays just a little easier.
My advice: if something doesn’t work for you, just let it go. Be creative and see if it doesn’t make the holidays a little easier.
4. Remember: It’s Only a Season
Some of the best advice that Jamie and I received shortly after our Mom went to Heaven came from a friend who said, “The first year is going to be the hardest…next year will still be difficult….but every year it will get easier. Someday the pain will be replaced by warm memories and you will celebrate again.”
At the time, it seemed impossible. Yet, a decade later I attest that our friend was 100% right. Time does heal. This pain that you are experiencing will not last forever.
As Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
Even though it may not seem true today, it is true—-you will heal and you will experience joy and celebrate the holidays again.
In the meantime, I would like to pray for you.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I come before You in the Name of Jesus. Let me begin by thanking You for sending Jesus to earth to save mankind. How difficult it must have been to send Him knowing how He would suffer and die, but thank You for sending Him so that we could be saved, delivered, and healed.
Now, Lord, I bring before you all of the women whose hearts are hurting this Christmas. I don’t know all of their circumstances or what caused their hearts to break, but You do. You know all about them. You see every tear that falls from their eyes, and you know every pain in their hearts. I can’t tell anyone how to make things better, but You can. Please lead our footsteps.
Lord, Christmas is a very emotionally charged season. It seems to compound the pain and make it harder. I know You understand that, too. So, Lord, I ask that You would please be near to every heart that is hurting today. I ask that You would heal the brokenness and heal wounded spirits. I ask that You would strengthen hearts and give us all of the strength that we need to walk through our current circumstances. I even ask that You would give supernatural joy that overcomes all pain. Please give us wisdom for how we should handle every event during the holiday season and every day of our lives. Let us feel Your Presence very near to us today and every day.
I love you, Lord. Please help us, no matter what our circumstances, to draw closer to You and deepen our relationship with You. We love You. Thank you for loving us and sending Jesus to earth.
In Jesus’ name.
With much love,