When the Holidays Don’t Feel So Happy

It’s November 24th. I sit overlooking the Sea of Galilee, meditating on all the things I should be thankful for. If you had asked me yesterday, the list would have been long – my son, my husband, family, friends, freedom, love,img_6202 Christ… – but today the list seems bleak. It’s as if a cloud of grief has set over me, and even the strong winds on my 11th floor balcony can’t sweep it away.

There’s something about the holidays that scratches at grief until it comes to the surface. Two weeks ago I miscarried my child, and I’ve had overwhelming peace since it happened. But on this day, Thanksgiving Day, I feel uneasy about it all. My life is insanely blessed, but I just don’t feel that way today. I feel sad. I feel ungrateful. I feel pain.

Since I came to Israel a few days ago, I’ve done nothing but laughed and enjoyed myself. Frankly, I haven’t thought about my loss. But the holidays have a way of reminding you of all you’ve lost.

I wish I could understand the grief that comes with celebration. I’ve heard countless stories of mothers who’ve lost children or spouses who’ve lost their loved ones – they all have one thing in common: The holidays that were once celebrated become days of mourning. Instead of a Happy Thanksgiving or a Merry Christmas, they’re days to “just make it through” until tomorrow comes and it can all be behind us.

Depression weighs heavily on the shoulders of so many people who simply want to know the joy and laughter that others get to experience. If you’re hurting this holiday season, know that you are not alone.

If I’ve discovered anything in life, it’s that numbing your pain will destroy you. Once you choose to stop feeling, you choose to stop living. The ironic thing about emotions is that when you choose to numb one, you numb them all by default. If you choose to numb your pain for example, you’ll also loose the ability to feel love, joy and goodness from the world. So my first piece of advice this season is simple: don’t numb what you feel. Put down the bottle, the misused prescription, or the drug that will make you forget.

God created us with emotions, both those that feel great and those that feel awful. It’s important to realize that feelings themselves aren’t good or bad. They’re simply feelings… They’re what make us human. You can’t truly be human without experiencing joy in the same way that you can’t be human without knowing hurt. Give yourself permission to feel.

Second, don’t isolate yourself. Although you feel alone, you don’t have to be. Take a moment for yourself. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to scream, scream. Then, go be with people who love you. Visit family or friends. The laughter and joy of others will rub off on you. Allow people to be there for you, and stop feeling like you’re burdening others. God has placed people around you because He knows the value of community and relationship. It’s why He tells his people to, “rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).”

img_6109Finally, know how blessed you are in your grief. ( I can imagine you rolling your eyes at that last statement…) But yes, you are so, SO very blessed. Jesus said Himself, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” You may feel crummy, but Christ promised that His spirit is on it’s way to meet you right now, in this moment. He promised that His spirit would be the ultimate Comforter. You are about to experience a part of God that others don’t yet know. You get to meet the greatest comforter of all time – and what an honor it is to know God so intimately!

Let His love encapsulate you as you mourn. Let Him be the shoulder you lean on. Let His wings be the refuge where healing can begin – For every tear you’ve cried has mattered to the God who holds you in his hands. If you are grieving this holiday season, stop everything you’re doing and ask God to comfort your broken heart. There’s no formula prayer I can give you to make Him show up, but I will promise you this:

God always responds to a desperate heart.

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