By Dawn R. Ward
Are you hurting this holiday season? Has a heavy heart slipped in unexpectedly and interrupted your Christmas cheer?
The holidays are meant to be a season of celebration, peace on earth, and good will for all men. Sadly, pain does not take a break during the most wonderful time of the year. People are hurting as sickness, job loss, financial hardship, and possibly the death of a loved one, kidnaps their joy and robs them of their peace.
Our relationships are tested during the holidays, triggering past and present traumas and tensions with ever-increasing demands on our time, patience and emotional reserves. All too often, I catch myself snapping at my husband for no other reason than simply needing to release the frustration caused by an over-committed calendar and my equally overwhelmed mind.
Pain doesn’t take a break because Hallmark’s holiday movie line-up starts the day after Halloween. Instead, it intensifies as the hustle and bustle of decorating and shopping is added to our already hectic schedules. So, how do we learn to embrace the joy of the season while still acknowledging the hurt and holes in our hearts?
It’s Okay to Hurt During the Holidays
The fourth anniversary of my mother’s death is rapidly approaching. Because she passed only a few weeks before Christmas, the holidays are always bittersweet. I rejoice she is celebrating the birth of Jesus in his presence, but I still miss her terribly.
It’s important for us to know that it’s okay to hurt when painful memories or emotions catch us off guard. Often when talking to people who have experienced deep wounds that resurrect or intensify during the holiday season, I hear them question their reactions as if they are inappropriate. Many believe if they were only stronger or had more faith, they would be better equipped to deal with their broken hearts.
How Embracing the Hurt Helps Us Heal
Jesus understands our sorrow and grief. He knows our weaknesses, the burdens too heavy for us to carry, and he emphasizes with us as no one else can. He alone is able to heal our hurting hearts.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 (ESV)
When we acknowledge our hurts and release our expectations about our feelings because of them, we will then be free to embrace our healing.
- Acknowledge your hurt. Begin by accepting the pain you are feeling. Press into these painful emotions as you invite Jesus to visit you in your sorrow and heal your broken heart.
“My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me.” Jeremiah 8:18 (ESV)
- Release your expectations. Let go of any preconceived ideas you have about how long you take to heal. Healing takes time. While others may appear stronger, that’s not always the case. Be patient in the process. Hold onto hope as you wait for your healing.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 43:5 (ESV)
- Embrace your healing. When your healing comes, remember to bring hope to others as you share your story with them.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV)
“I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.” ~Elizabeth Elliot
Wife Step: Reflect on the blessings that have come because of the suffering you are experiencing. Ask the Lord to grant you eyes to see his goodness and provision as he heals and restores your broken heart. Write out a prayer of thanksgiving as you celebrate this holiday season.
Dawn Ward is a speaker, writer and blogger. She is the founder of The Faith to Flourish, a ministry that equips women who desire to grow in their faith, cultivate healthy relationships and thrive in all seasons of life. She also ministers to women with loved ones struggling with addiction, mental health issues and life-destructive behaviors. Dawn is the co-author of the book “Still Standing After All the Tears Workbook: Faith in the Battle Edition. She has been married to her husband, Steve, for over forty years and is mom to three adult children. It is her passion to help all women grow in their faith as they learn to better understand the Bible and how to apply it to their lives.