The Holidays Clarify Our Pain

I have spent my fair share of Christmases crying under the Christmas tree in the dark, staring at the lights on the tree dreaming of the Christmas I want rather than the Christmas I have. This Christmas, I am joyfully anticipating family time, and I thank God that I don’t anticipate crying under the tree this year. But I’ve had enough lonely Christmases in the past, longing for something different, to respect the fact that many of you who follow this blog are entering a season that puts a harsh spotlight on the losses in your life. Perhaps you lost something you had — a child, a spouse, a parent, a relationship. Perhaps you feel the loss of something you long to have but have not yet gotten to hold — infertility, singleness.

The holidays clarify our pain. They make it very clear exactly what we are longing for and exactly what we are mourning. It is very hard to distract ourselves from our losses during this season. If you find yourself in this place, spotlight shining on your losses so that you can not escape the pain whether sitting under the tree, singing a carol, buying a gift, or opening a present, here are some thoughts from someone who has been there before.

1) It’s ok to feel your loss. Despite what you likely sense, everyone else is not enjoying the holidays unconditionally. You are not alone in your loneliness. There is not something wrong with you. Or actually, there is something wrong, but there is something wrong with all of us. So don’t let the feelings of isolation go unanswered in your own head. You may feel that you are alone and no one else understands the weight of your loss you carry through the holidays, but the truth is that MANY of your brothers and sisters in Christ are carrying such burdens and you are not alone in your loss.

2) Holiday pain can also clarify what you do have. Screw turkeys and cranberry sauce. Forget gifts given and received. Stocking stuffers are over rated. Instead, understand that your circumstances also shine a spotlight on Christ. When you aren’t distracted by (or enamored by as many of us are) Christmas frivolities, we recognize the void that can only be filled by one thing — Christ Himself. It was during lonely Christmases that I discovered Colossians 1 and sat under a tree reading it to myself. It sustained me, not just for a season, but I’ve gone back to that passage for a lifetime.

I’ll leave you with Colossians 1, this passage that tells us exactly Who arrived in the manger that night. As the holidays spotlight the pain of your losses, I encourage you to let God’s description of His Son shine an alternate spotlight on all you have in Him this season.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,

May your holiday season clarify your identity in Christ alone. See you in the New Year.

5 Responses to The Holidays Clarify Our Pain

  1. kellycowan December 19, 2009 at 4:36 am #

    okay that was amazing. go Holy Spirit. i appreciate that line – “the holidays clairfy our loss”. they do. my husband just wrote a blog that relates to this on we've been feeling our losses highlighted lately. but it is true too like you said that the holidays bring out what we are really hoping for because we feel the lacking of it or gratitude for it. i am learning the meaning of advent this year for the first time in my whole life as a believer and i am trying to cast my hope on “his coming” (that already happened) as well as “his coming” that i anticipate when he will be back for us. and the hurts we feel while we are here – i know that his coming also ministers to those as well. thanks wendy.

  2. Anonymous December 19, 2009 at 3:32 pm #

    You must be a carpenter because you hit the nail right on the head!

  3. Bina December 19, 2009 at 5:12 pm #

    Thanks, Wendy.

  4. Ali December 22, 2009 at 1:52 am #

    Dear Wendy,
    Thanks for this post. I really appreciate that you don't just “forget” about where you've been and the other people who might still be there, even though your own life is now in a different place.

  5. Nancy Guthrie December 26, 2009 at 2:16 am #


    Oh yes! So many imperfect Christmases in my past, in my right now, and I'm sure, in my future. Disappointed, lonely, mourning that there are two small children who are not here that I so wish were here to enjoy the wonder.

    “He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.”

    I'm so grateful! But for now, we “groan inwardly as we wait patiently,” and that means less-than-perfect Christmases.

    Thanks for the insights, and the permission!