I started writing about how I was searching for the meaning of Christmas at the beginning of Advent. I was needing to find meaning in a something that was so much more than “Just a Holiday.” I needed to find my place, a place that really rang true in my heart. An emphasis that resonated through my soul, taking flight in my Spirit.
Little by little I am finding that meaning. It hasn’t happened without a ton of effort, searching through scripture and asking God some direct, if not pointed questions.
In the course of this journey, I have heard back from other bloggers thanking me for my willingness to be bold and give a voice to an echo that is still not loud enough to hear. There is a key element in my journey that I missed. But it’s an element that not all of can relate to but ALL of us NEED to understand.
Not only do I struggle with finding the Spirit of Christmas this year, but I have struggled with it for 31 years. I really wasn’t able to put words to it until this week though when a fellow blogger asked me if I might be able to write about a very distinct topic:
Facing Christmas amidst heartache.
Heartache is broad. It’s sadness, grief, mourning, loss, isolation, abandonment, betrayal…find any adverb you want about an emotion that “haunts” you. Anything that makes you yearn for THAT time BEFORE. Anything that causes your eyes to “sweat” (in guy terms) or bring you to your knees out of desperation.
Christmas and Heartache shouldn’t exist together in the same sentence. But they can and they do, I can say that 31 Christmases later. I still remember the first time I had to decorate the “family” Christmas tree SOLO. The first time I had to wrap presents without sharing whispers of excitement or laughter (here come my tears.)
Christmas to “society at large” is supposed to be all about merriment, memory making and relationships.
What do you do when the cart balancing those three qualities is suddenly or inexplicably overturned and ALL the apples are falling or threatening to fall?
You ROLL WITH THEM. Dear God, roll with them. and FIND a WAY to get bruised without getting broken. Reach OUT to God. ‘Cause He’s got more answers than I can give you here!!
Bird’s Eye View
I drove into the Target parking lot today as I considered whether or not I should write this post. The parking lot was full and people were walking to and fro with packages in hand filling their cars with treasures and sipping their coffees. I thought about how NORMAL they seemed on the outside…and how much I couldn’t relate to that. I mean, sure I can shop and spend and splurge and drink coffee until I’m blue in the face and my feet hurt. But that’s only a “superficial something” to do.
Life Changes YOU when you:
Look at the face of a loved one slipping away on a hospital or hospice bed — you can’t understand that feeling of helplessness.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
Realize the last breath has been taken and their soul has departed. You can FEEL the weight of carnal grief bearing down.
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Have to see your Mother, Father, Sister, Brother or child in their casket prior to burial and recognize life will NEVER be the same…life WILL BE Different.
“For God so loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
That’s when staring at the material things like Target, shopping, designer coffee and gossip looks really different. Illness and death do change things. But we shouldn’t – NO WE MUSTN’T let them consume us!
The Life we Live counts for something. It’s important to recognize that. Maybe that’s why God is having me blog. Maybe with all the heart-wrenching life experience that has been tossed my direction maybe it’s to let YOU know that loss and grief and mourning is NO REASON for us to LOSE HEART. Our grief ought to be a stepping stone on a pathway to growth. It might not feel like it today or tomorrow, but it WILL.
Christmas is an annual journey on that pathway. Each year God helps us find a way to let the ache ease. The ache won’t go away and it shouldn’t. Just like Christmas won’t ever seem like a “Norman Rockwell” painting or “Picture Perfect” again. It shouldn’t. It needs to look worn and loved and torn and repaired. Because that is what our hearts look like, too.
I’m at the point where I am going to stop feeling guilty that Christmas won’t look perfect or feel perfect. “Christmas Perfect” is a secular concept developed in a culture always wanting more, MoRE, MORE!
Christmas, the birth of Jesus, was a simple yet profound event. Quite the opposite of what society impresses on us to “believe.”
We need to recognize that we all have hurts, bruises and trauma from things we can’t control. Things that are beyond our control. The best thing we can do is give every last heartache to God and ask Him to fill us with His Peace instead.
That’s what Christmas is About. Not being perfect. Not always feeling happy. Not to even decorate if we don’t feel like it. But knowing that we ARE OK, We’ll be OK and we will find a way to keep going and come out Stronger on the flip Side!
If you have not watched the above music video by Mark Schultz I ask that you do so now.
I am also attaching the background video Mark made explaining the reasons for writing the song. It is posted below. Watching both of them is equally important. These videos are what prompted me to write this…and to encourage you to know it’s OK to feel different this Christmas. Cut yourself some slack and honor the person you miss and Loved. That’s the BEST Gift you could GIVE THEM and yourself!
As always, thank you for spending time here today. And whatever you may be going through, just know you are not alone and YOU are Loved by God!