Last year about this time, when I was first getting this page up and running, I posted a message about Christmas being not so merry and bright for everyone. I started by writing that I know not everyone has a Merry Christmas. The holidays are especially hard for those who are alone, ill, mourning a loved one lost this year, or when those we love are many miles away.
I was speaking from experience, and although I shared a story from many years ago, it is a story that repeats for me year after year. Not every Christmas is Merry and Bright for me.
You see, my daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren live overseas. Because of Covid travel restrictions, we haven’t seen them in three years, and I can’t remember how long it’s been since they spent Christmas with us as they alternate between our family and his in Mississippi.
This year, they are coming home, and it’s our turn to have them for Christmas. God Bless me!
But what about you? Is this the year you dread Christmas and the pain it brings to your weary heart? I get it. That’s why I want to repost most of what I wrote last year, particularly since many of you were not following this page yet.
Not So Merry and Bright 2021
I have had a few not-so-merry and bright Christmases. The worst was when my college student son’s reserve unit was activated to Bosnia just days before Christmas. It was my first Christmas without one of my children, and of course, I was worried about his safety and how he would cope with his first Christmas away from home. Although some pointed out to me that he was 21, any mother of adult children will tell you age doesn’t matter.
Going to the mall to finish my shopping was like an obstacle course. Happy music. Happy people. Bright and sparkly decorations. It felt like an affront when my heart was so heavy and I was so sad. I remember seeing a young mother walking with her little boy, holding his hand as they admired the decorations together. It evoked tender memories of when I held a little boy’s hand in mine. Then the loudspeakers began to play “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” Yeah. I lost it. I just had to get out of there. I sat alone in my car and cried.
Every sweetly familiar Christmas song made me cry. Every bright and cheery song made me cringe. As much as I love Christmas, I could not wait for all the “Merry and Bright” to go away that year. However, I still had two daughters at home. They, too, were struggling through Christmas parties and holiday events. They needed a happy Christmas.
I needed to set a good example for my daughters of how to navigate around other people’s joy, even when they feel broken and bruised.
That hard Christmas taught me something invaluable and has carried me through every Christmas since. We all talk about finding the real meaning of Christmas. I found it that year. When you strip away all the tinsel and Fa-La-La-La-La, what remains is a baby in a manger.
The scriptures (Isaiah 61 and Luke 4) tell us that He came not only to take away the sins of the world but also to heal the brokenhearted and comfort those who mourn. That’s where I found the true meaning and heart of Christmas. He came so that I could have a resource beyond myself that enabled me to endure that painful season and still find joy in the midst of my sadness. That lesson was compounded by an experience I had several years later.
We were in Indonesia. Our host missionaries took us to visit a group of people who live “Under the Bridge” It was like a highway overpass, and there were rooms under a ceiling barely five feet high. It was on the bank of a polluted river full of floating garbage. It smelled terrible. I saw a rat run along a wall. Whole families and many children were living there. I didn’t want to be there, and even more, I didn’t want to know that people actually had to live like this! We were going to observe what the local believers’ were doing to help these people.
I was told about an elderly woman who lived in one of these tiny rooms under the bridge. She had a sleeping mat, a pail for a latrine, and a small stash of personal belongings. On the wall was a picture of Jesus. Amid such extreme poverty, she pointed to the picture and said, “I have Jesus. I have everything.”
Her words, spoken in such dire circumstances, were some of the most profound (and humbling) I have ever heard.
Our trip to Indonesia was years after that first hard Christmas for me, but what she said, what I saw and learned there confirmed the truth I learned the Christmas that my son was in Bosnia. As long as I have Jesus, I have a reason to celebrate.
He brought hope and comfort to those who mourn. This life is not the end. I can have hope. He knows what I am going through and there will be better days ahead. I can have peace because I know He will never leave me or forsake me.
I have had a lot of Christmases without all my children since then. I, like you, have endured hard seasons, whether at Christmas or in the middle of the summer! It’s very hard to have everyone around you in a holly jolly frame of mind when you are fighting a battle against your own personal sorrows. There is a verse that addresses what it’s like to be grieved in the midst of other’s joy.
Proverbs 25:20. The Message interprets it this way:
Singing light songs to the heavyhearted is like pouring salt in their wounds.Proverbs 25:20 MSG
The Passion Bible says it this way:
When you sing a song of joy to someone suffering in the deepest grief and heartache, it can be compared to disrobing in the middle of a blizzard or rubbing salt in a wound.Proverbs 25:21 TPT
That’s what happy holidays can feel like for those who are alone, in mourning, ill, or otherwise unhappy. It’s like salt in a wound or being exposed to a bitterly cold wind when everyone is happy and you’re sad.
Life is hard sometimes, but He came to give us all we would need to endure these difficult times. Although you may be hurting and broken this Christmas, although you may be alone, I hope you also come to appreciate what this dear woman learned and that I did also.
I have Jesus. I have everything.
And I would add to this message this bit of insight:
Several years ago, we were overseas a few weeks before Christmas in a country that is not a Christian nation. Although they celebrate the holiday, it is all about lighted trees, tinsel, bells, holly, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
There was no manger, no shepherds, no crèche, no baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. It was a hollow celebration. Even the decorations were just a lot of colorful plastic and glitter without what we call the “Reason for the Season.”
Christmas without Jesus is an empty manger on a cold winter night.
With or without my loved ones near, with or without my health, with or without a thing to worry about, I have Jesus. I have everything.
Why Doesn’t God Just Heal Me
If you like what you’ve seen here, please consider picking up a copy of my book
Why Doesn’t God Just Heal Me – available on Amazon.com
ebook, paperback, and Audible
Having endured an undiagnosed illness for thirty years, the author prayed daily for healing and diligently searched the Bible to answer the questions we all ask when faith does not seem to be enough.
With a comprehensive and balanced application of scripture, the author addresses the topic of healing and answers the questions that test our faith.