The Christmas Ache
Editor’s Note: We loved this post by the women at FastPray so much that we decided to republish it here. Christmas has always been a hard season for me, without family to spend it with. And I know it’s the same for many of you. Even if you do have family, things change, and “the Christmas ache” is present for most of us. What else do you do to combat it? Please share in the comments. – Lauren
For the past 20+ years or so, Christmas has been bittersweet for me, some years more bitter than others. The downward slide got started when my parents divorced, then picked up steam as I spent year after year without kids or a husband, and usually without even a boyfriend to speak of. It has traditionally been the time of year that has marked the sadness of sameness for me. I have kept waiting for change.
Well, last year I got change as I brought my new husband home for Christmas. And let me be clear, I was very thankful to have him, and he did bring a new comfort to the holidays. But, trying to fit into my growing blended family and missing all that felt familiar from my childhood Christmases made me hit an all-time Christmas low. Christmas night, I crawled into bed crying, longing (again!) for that sweet Christmas bliss with warm fuzzy feelings, complete with a family that is healthy and whole – you know, what’s advertised a million times in 30-second commercials starting in early November.
I was reminded again through my tears that what I really long for is heaven, and I won’t find it here on earth. There’s no great fix to the pain of life in a fallen world – even though somewhere deep inside I thought marriage would do it! None of us has all that we want, or totally wants all that we have. We are made for so much more, and we know it, and so we ache.
What can we do with the ache, especially during this Christmas season that can seem to rub our lack right smack dab in our faces? As I was pondering what has helped me over the years, and continues to help me now, here’s what I came up with:
1) Do something for someone else. My dad seemed to have this lesson wrapped up. He was always taking a shift ringing the Salvation Army bell, buying gifts for an Angel Tree child, or serving Christmas breakfast to homeless people. He found joy in turning his attention away from himself and onto someone who was hurting.
Isaiah 58 is a great antidote for pain and lost-ness, particularly verses 10 and 11:
If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
2) Embrace the joy of the season. Don’t wait for a husband, boyfriend or intact family to come along; get a Christmas tree, have a party, go to the Christmas Eve service, decorate your home – enjoy the benefits of the season now, whatever stage of life you are in.
3) Make time to spend with God. Your to-do list may be a mile long, but carve out time to be alone with the Lord. He longs to refresh and comfort you. Let him. Christmas is about God being present with us; take the time to embrace his presence.
May all of us find our comfort and joy in Him this season,
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