Have you ever dreaded the holidays? Instead of joy, you feel anguish. Everyone else has the Christmas magic. But it skipped over you. And you don’t know why or how to change it. You know the circumstances are beyond your control. There is nothing you can do.
I get it. Christmas has not always been joyful for me. And I know I am not alone. My news feed demonstrates this truth. Post after post covers this exact topic.
Painful memories impact the present
As victim of child abuse and later domestic violence, many of my holidays were painful memories. Time off for an abuser means more time to abuse victims. And, that was true for me.
The abuse stopped but the memories lived on making it hard to enjoy this time of year. And if that is not enough, life still dishes out heartache. When everyone else anticipates joy, a victim of abuse anticipates something bad is about to happen. It is a hard feeling to shake. Past trauma and present challenges mean it takes a lot to press through the darkness.
Sadly, this phenomenon is not limited to victims of abuse. Many people find it hard to enjoy the holidays. Because let’s face it, dysfunctional relationships and trials abound. Life is full of heartache and it finds us all.
Year after year, I’ve faced pain in my past and even pain in my present. Sometimes, I would bury the hurt but it still oozed out. This year I expected the same. After all, it has been a rough several years.
Surprisingly, Christmas 2022 was the best Christmas to date. Despite oppressive darkness that I can’t do a thing about, I felt joy, experienced peace, and had a blast.
Finding Peace in the middle of trials
As a person of faith, I encountered a treasure trove of transformational insights that made a difference this year. And I want to share those with you.
Sometimes life just stinks. But genuine joy comes when you can find peace despite the heartache. And peace we found. I think it has to do with finally getting it. Specifically, the joy thing came because of a God thing. It starts with that babe born thousands of years ago. Let me explain.
Circumstances around us often steal our joy. Unrealistic expectations also play a role. We don’t want to accept that heartache is supposed to be in our lives. Despite our denial, brokenness is a part of this journey. That means death and fractured relationships exist. No one escapes it.
The holidays intensify our longing for what life could be. The anguish increases as we resist suffering and insist paradise exists on this side of heaven. .
Is it possible to experience joy in the middle of heartache?
When you anchor your well-being in Christ (that babe born long ago), you access joy inexpressible. It produces a peace that surpasses all understanding. That means when devastation hits, you feel the pain but it doesn’t define you. It refines you. You don’t see the anguish as destructive but instructive.
Thought leaders call this your mindset. Christians know loss is a part of this pilgrimage. We can lose our jobs, marriages, loved ones, material belongings, and more. But we can not lose Christ.
This is living out “ nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, Not tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or sword.” True peace comes with valuing unity with Christ above all else. And get this, that means valuing Him above all the other things that you could lose anyway. It is a refusal to be defined by the circumstances that surround you. Rather, you define yourself as the child of the King, and rest securely in the unbreakable bond to Christ.
This is my key lesson for 2022. Be miserable because life hurts or bury yourself more deeply in the arms of your savior and experience a peace that surpasses ALL understanding. Drawing closer to God for comfort works!! And it gets even better when you seek to fortify your closeness to Him.
Treasure the present memory making
There was that peace in our country home this Christmas. To keep the pain from setting in, I focused on savoring the present memory making.
Jon and I cooked together. Christmas music was playing in the background. There was laughter. There was chatter.
I saw my son-in-law pass through the living room with his knees up to his eyeballs on my grandson’s new bicycle. He was showing Sammy how to ride. Next, Sammy passed by pedaling like he was born to ride.
We had a special guest visitor, Santa Claus.
Sammy saw Grandma kiss Santa Claus. His eyes widened but he was less apprehensive about accepting a gift from him. Santa had the whole family laughing when he explained he no longer uses reindeer due to a terrible lawsuit. He doesn’t want another grandma to get run over. Nor does he want another lawsuit. So he uses horses under a hood to get around.
The peace in our home was so precious. It was unexpected and beautiful. I had shed buckets of tears weeks before due to anguish. I fully expected this Christmas to go down in history as yet another dark memory. But it was quite the opposite.
And, just when we thought Christmas was over, our purebred doe delivered triplets. This means more good soap in 2023.
Finally, this gift is especially precious. Another grandson will arrive in March of 2023. The best present ever!!
I am so thankful that because he lives I can face tomorrow. But that is not the best part. Because he lives, I can face today.
Happy New Year from the bubble making crew!