December 9, 2011
When Christmas is Hard
"He heals the brokenhearted..." Psalm 147:3 (NIV)
Looking at the calendar, I counted the number of days till Christmas. I'd done it every year, eagerly looking forward to celebrating Christ's birth or surprising someone with the perfect Christmas gift.
However, this time I was counting down the days not with excitement, but with dread.
My husband Ron passed away in April. That Christmas would be one of many dreaded "firsts" that my son and I would have without him.
Fragile, shattered and alone describe my feelings that holiday season. While everyone else seemed caught up in happy festivities, their family togetherness magnified my lonely brokenness.
Along with overwhelming grief, I was worried. How would I financially support us? How could I help my son have a fun holiday when I could hardly stop crying? It all seemed like too much.
Maybe you understand because this holiday season is hard for you too. A loved one may have passed or someone you love is battling a serious illness. This might be your first holiday separated or divorced. Just as I did, you may be feeling grief, dread or worry.
That first Christmas without my husband was fourteen years ago. Its taken time, but over the years I've adopted some practices to help me find joy during the Christmas season. I'd love to share with you today.
Honor your loved one. My husband's absence at special occasions still weighs on my heart years later. To honor his memory, Nick and I place a special ornament on our Christmas tree. It hangs front and center as a reminder Ron is a part of every celebration, because he is a part of us. Perhaps you can hang an ornament on your tree, give a gift in your loved one's honor, or make a donation in their memory to an organization that was dear to their heart. Consider making their favorite meal and sharing stories about them as you gather around your Christmas table.
Create new traditions. I always loved a big, family-oriented holiday with noise and messiness. Because my extended family lives far away, Nick and I needed to find a new "family" close by. Over the years, God has sent people to fill the empty spaces in our lives and hearts. One of my favorite new traditions is to spend an evening with my friends where I make a big Christmas dinner. We celebrate together with food, fellowship and all the noise and messiness I crave.
Share Christ's comfort. I've experienced God's promise to heal my broken heart, as today's key verse reminds us. Much of my healing has come from the love He's sent through other people. Because of this, I keep my eyes open for those who might be grieving or sad at the holidays. I've found that comforting others brings me comfort.
This year as I anticipate the Christmas season, I'll experience a familiar combination of emotions. Sadness will tug at my heart as I miss celebrating this special time with my husband, but I'm excited to celebrate what only Christ can do — heal my broken heart. The comfort He brings is one of the many reasons to celebrate His birth this Christmas season.
Dear Lord, thank You for Your faithful presence and comfort during my sadness. I pray that especially during this Christmas season my eyes will be open to others who are hurting. Please help me to love them for You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
For ideas on reaching out to others, as well as helpful organization tips, decorating, menu planning ideas, and seeking Christ in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, download our new e-book, Untangling Christmas: Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holiday by Karen Ehman and LeAnn Rice.
Visit LeAnn's A Widow's Might website for practical ways you can bring hope to those around you this holiday season and throughout the year, regardless of your budget.
Ask God to show you someone who needs comforting this Christmas and pray about ways to share His love in a tangible way. Their grief, as well as yours, will be softened.
What new tradition can I create in recognition of this new season of life?
What traditions do I want to keep in honor of my loved one?
In my sadness, have I run away from God or to Him? How can I keep turning to Him?
Jeremiah 31:13, "...I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow." (NIV)
2 Corinthians 1:3, 4, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (NIV)
© 2011 by LeAnn Rice. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105