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I spent my Christmas Eve and Christmas Day working a 24 hour shift. While the words, "Merry Christmas", came out of my mouth as an echoed response to the greetings of others, I was not feeling all that merry, joyful, jolly or festive. I fully focused on doing my job and, as I drew closer to the end of the 24 hours, I was looking forward to going to bed for more reasons than exhaustion.

That was my 2nd 24+ hour shift in less than 3 days and those hours were definitely deliberate. I tried to cling to hope and remember the reason that we Christ-followers celebrate, but I openly admit that it was difficult.

All truth here: Mentally, I decided that I just wanted to make myself so physically exhausted that I would not have the time or the energy to think about the challenging and heartbreaking things that have happened this year. As I have told numerous people, I never thought I'd be spending this Christmas alone.

image of man covering his face with his hands. Background is dark and smokey and deteriorating.

I know that I'm not the only one.

We live in an imperfect world full of sin and horrendous things that go against what God truly intended. We live in the midst of brokenness and sickness, of despair and heartbreak.

So, what do we do, as Christians, when the 'merry' has been knocked out of our Christmas moments - when we know the reason for the celebration but when we, at the same time, are overwhelmed by the heaviness of loss, the wreckage of broken commitment, and memories that aren't made of peace but of conflict?

Regardless of the pull of our emotions, the silence of our homes, the aches of past memories that keep surfacing, or the reality of lack in tangible areas of our lives, there are still so many reasons to be thankful and there are ways that we can fight the enemy that throws things at us, causing us to stumble.

As someone who has struggled with this holiday season and who, especially at the conclusion of this year, has to take one day at a time constantly, let me share what is helping me.

Focus on others

Galatians 6:10, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

Hebrews 13:1-3, "Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."

Hebrews 13:16, "Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."

  • Focusing on others is not just for the benefit of others, but can help lift us out of the deep rut called "ourselves".

  • I cannot put words to how the sacrifices of others - their time, donations to our family, their prayers, their listening and their advice - have carried me through recent times. So many people have walked with me in the last year. I know that I wouldn't be where I am without the love and support and blessings of others.

  • Find places to give of your time - there are so many needs all around us.

Remember that all good things come from our unchanging God

James 1:17, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

1 John 4:19, "We love because he first loved us."

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

  • It isn't always easy to focus on the gifts in our lives when we are wading in hurt, loneliness or tragedy. It might take physically writing a list of the things that are good in your life to refocus. Sometimes it takes something tangible.

  • Write thank you cards and write "thinking of you" cards. Even if they include nothing more than a scripture verse that has marked your heart, this can be a way of honoring the gifts in our lives.

You might not be ready to be around others or join in with a cheerful and loud crowd - and that is okay. You might cry tears instead of smiling and you might treasure silence rather than the sound of 'Jingle Bells' or 'I'll be Home for Christmas'.

And that is okay.

You might feel alone but you aren't.

And, one day, you will be able to take the lead in supporting others instead of being supported.

One day, you will be the one shining the light to others.

One day, you will be able to use your story to offer compassion to others.

But, in these days, when the wounds are still fresh and painful, wait on God and allow Him to heal you. God is faithful. He will use others to carry you and He will enable you to carry others when the time is right.

We use a specific couple of days on our calendars to give unique attention to the birth of our Savior but we know that Christ can be and should be celebrated at all times.

God knows the horrors of this world because He purposefully gave His only Son to die for our salvation from it. Our acknowledgement and worship of the birth of Jesus or the reason for His life on earth isn't defined by going to parties, eating meals with friends or family, giving gifts, or decorating a tree. It is defined in the innermost parts of our being, in our hearts, in our minds, and in the sanctuary of our spirit.

In love,

Sarah Jane

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Dec 28, 2023

I feel your pain, even tho in a different set of “casualties “. My heart was torn Christmas Day as I outwardly laughed and celebrated with my “married into” family while my own family didn’t bother to even call. It hurt. Yet I could hear in my heart God reminding me of how He brought this newly acquired family to me at a time when I had no idea my own family would turn from me, this new family was His gift to me!

Life isn’t easy or pretty but with God we have hope and a reason to rejoice!

Love you!

Dec 28, 2023
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You are very right. Keeping the focus.

I know how hard Christmas Day was for you. I still believe God for full restoration for you and your family.

Thank you for being MY family. Thank you for being one of the ones who blessed my life.

I love you. You are so very loved.

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