I find myself slightly angry every Christmas. It's frustrating, because although I do everything within my power to counteract it-it stills boils up slightly. Throw in three crazy, strong-willed children, massive changes and transitions, being a bit hormonal...well, this season there are moments I am verging on crazy woman.
Although the anger is slightly fueled by the above mentioned chaos, it primarily comes from loss. And every year, I fail to pay heed to its need to be recognized. Grief never leaves after the loss of a dear loved one. In my case, it's my parents. In yours, maybe it was a spouse, a child, a sibling...Grief is ALWAYS there. It fades with time, the pain eases and you move forward. Yet, the sting of the loss will remain present. And it's at these times, the holidays, where it springs from its dormant state and with its full force, knocks you off your feet.
Years after a loss, it surprises you that it can affect you the way it does. And it does affect you, every single time.
It comes out in those short tempered moments, when you feel blue but you can't figure out why, when you look on at others with resentment. You catch yourself and think, man, what is my problem? You over-spiritualize it by thinking you need to pray more, read more scripture. You need to be grateful for what God has given you. Count your blessings, that sort of thing. We are supposed to have joy at Christmas. And while all of those things may be true, you find yourself still blue at Christmas.
The Psalmist, David, is our greatest example in scripture of one who knew how to grieve and how to rejoice. And through, Paul, we learn that it is indeed possible to be sorrowful while rejoicing. Rejoicing through buried sorrow is not rejoicing at all. Rejoicing comes slowly, but certainly through tears streaming down your face as you miss and grieve the one now not with you, anger given words and pain given a name - all laid in the precious hands of our Emmanuel. You see, when you actually stop long enough, giving yourself permission to feel what you feel, say what you need to say...sorrow and rejoicing begin it's collide in the arms of a Savior who loves you so deeply. You give yourself the freedom to release, and find a grace and love so tender that it takes your breath away.
Whether it is a loss through death, a loss through a broken relationship, the missing of a loved one that just simply can't be home at Christmas-give yourself the greatest gift this Christmas. Give yourself the gift of God's comfort and presence. Take 5 minutes or 10, however long you need. Remember, reflect-grieve deeply. Then rejoice as you walk confidently knowing that your Savior is with you and for you.