The Christmas season, the most wonderful time of the year, is upon us. For most of us, our homes are decked in red and green, the stockings have been hung by the chimney with care, and shiny wrapped presents are starting to adorn the base of the tree. Everything about the season is supposed to be merry. (I mean seriously, do Hallmark movies get any better and sappier?) But what if you’re just not feeling it? What if you’re just not in the holiday mood?
My friend, it is okay. It is okay to admit that you’re struggling.
Commercialist Christmas started months ago… the stores flaunting the latest and greatest on their shelves. And now that Thanksgiving has passed, holiday music floods the airways singing of lovely days by the fire with the one we love, and walking in winter wonderlands, with a mix of songs about Santa and Jesus thrown in.
The reality for some though, is that with the holiday season comes overwhelming stress that makes it feel almost impossible to get into the holiday mood.
The pressure to feel the joy and the excitement of the holidays can be difficult for those who are enduring a financial setback and aren’t able to provide the kind of Christmas they wish to spoil their loved ones with.
Perhaps the holidays come with the heartache of loss. It may be the first Christmas without a loved one and the ache of missing them is so intense it seems to suffocate the season’s joyous celebration.
For some, this Christmas may mark not just a new holiday season, but a new season of life. A divorce. The distressing news of a health diagnosis.
And who can forget the stress being in a room full of your family can bring? Hello, anxiety!
If you can relate to any of these, please know you’re not alone and that you don’t have to hide your less-than-happy holiday mood.
That doesn’t give you permission to get all Scrooge-y and take down someone else’s holiday cheer. But entrusting a friend or confidante with the emotional struggles you are encountering this season may bring more healing and joy than you thought possible.
If we’re being honest here… I’ll confess that what takes down my holiday cheer is anxiety.
Months before the season arrives, I start playing ludicrous worse case “what if” scenarios that I may encounter. Or I obsess over something that was said at the previous holiday or family function that I’m having a hard time letting go of.
And it’s not just at Christmas, but Thanksgiving and Easter, and every other family get together too.
I struggle with comparisons and not feeling good enough on all fronts… professional, personal and as a parent.
I struggle with overcoming previous impressions that I’ve made on family members. Their perception of me stems from years of thinking I was just a selfish, bossy, control-freak without knowing that I daily fight a chemically imbalanced anxiety disorder. It leaves me feeling pin holed as the previous version of myself and discouraged on the progress that I’ve made over the last couple of years.
Being a playful, I-pick-on-you-if-I-like-you kind of gal has opened myself to the receiving end and “poking” that at times extends past playfulness. It leaves me questioning my worth and sparks self-doubt.
Add all this to my visual chaos trigger of children running rampant through Grandma’s house and you can see that I’m nothing shy of a hot mess who, if given the chance, would find a merrier Christmas hanging out in my jammies with a blanket, a snack and a watching rom-com Christmas movies alone.
My friend, we are all in this together. While our struggles may look different, while my pain may not be the same as yours… any past hurt that left us scarred can still be tender. Any struggle, any situation, any person that we allow to steal our joy is, in fact, inflicting pain on our soul. And no one ever says, “Bring on the pain. I enjoy it.”
So of course, we’re bound to shy away from what hurts us. We’re bound to be a little Grinchy when Christmas adds more stress to our already busy schedule and more heartaches and headaches than joy.
But… Christmas is too good to miss. Its message is one of hope, of forgiveness, of love. And while we may not be in the holly jolly holiday mood, we can still revel in this beautiful season.
So how do we do that?
Remember that this too shall pass
When you are in the throes of a tough situation, it can be difficult to remember that the way you feel right now isn’t permanent. It’s a season.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 God reminds us that there is a time for everything.
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”
Your season may not be ideal. Your situation may not be ideal. You may feel broken, beaten down and weary. You may feel overwhelmed, forsaken, embarrassed or ashamed. Your emotional well-being may have taken a hit. But this too shall pass.
This season will pass.
I love the Message version of 1 Cor 10:13, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”
God is right there holding your hand through this season. And he is providing a way out so that you can endure it. He knows that you are struggling. He knows every hurt and every pain. He knows every tear you cry and every piece of chocolate you indulge in for emotional stability. And he is not going to let you go. No matter what.
Embrace this season in your life. Even if it means you’re not all glitter and jingle bells this Christmas season because it means that God is walking you through some tough stuff and showing you His grace and His glory if only you will lean into Him.
Merry Christmas, my friend!
Get more of God’s truth & encouragement, and conversations about anger & anxiety on Alisha’s blog, Makeovers & Motherhood.