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Christmas Pain & Celebration

"Strange isn't it? Each man's life touches so many others lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole,doesn't he?" Clarence (It's a Wonderful Life)

It’s amazing how this season brings so much celebration into our lives as well as so much pain and grief. This morning as I type there is a very real awareness of the pain that is present this season.

A few days ago we got word that my sister’s divorce is final.

Divorced after 22 years and four children. We could go into all the reasons WHY and the process and road they walked to get to this point. But it’s not necessary for today. Today we are sitting in the midst of brokenness and pain. Of lives ripped apart and trying to stay above water. 

I have friends that have lost family members to unexpected deaths this past year. Or dealing with grandparents with Alzheimers and physical limitations.

What does this season of twinkle lights, Christmas baking and caroling mean to them? How do they walk forward while their hearts bleed? What do we say when we are in our matching Christmas clothes and encounter a family that just lost their child? How can we meet them? See them?


I think the first thing we do is to not feel guilty or ashamed of our moments of celebration. When we feel stupid for wearing our dress-up ELF costume and avoid eye contact when we run into hurting friends, it makes their pain feel out of place. When we can be intentional to respond to them where they are at, they will leave their encounter with us feeling seen and known. What we can’t do is ignore them because we feel awkward. Reach out. There are quite a few I need to reach out to over the next few days.

It is natural to despise the people celebrating the season when we are in a hard place.

There are families rejoicing in the birth of a child, a new job promotion, a first Christmas married or in a new house, family moving into town or an unexpected Christmas bonus.

We need to learn to “Rejoice with those that rejoice, and mourn with those that mourn.” Romans 12:15

This is a hard thing to do. But possible if we are intentional.

This year I am not in a place where I will be wearing any ELF costume.

There have been no births, no Christmas bonuses given or received, we have no family in town to share memories with. It’s quiet here. My heart aches for my sister, brother-in-law and especially my four nieces. I want to be with them in Minnesota. But I am here.

Sometimes loneliness can take our breath away. Do you know that feeling? The feeling like you are on the outside looking in? The feeling that everyone else got an invite except you. Suddenly our breathing is shallow and our oxygen levels drop. Life gets gray and we wonder how we got here? Without breath there is no life. But in those times we need to reach for the oxygen mask and inhale TRUTH. And so I press into HOPE and inhale the TRUTH that the BEST IS YET TO BE. 

I chose to be fully present in this moment. I don’t push my pain aside but I carry it with me this year. I carry my hurting family in my heart. When the tears come, I let them. There are moments of joy and I am thankful for those.


My nativity is front and center and so is my trust that God will finish what He started. It’s not over.

There is more to this story to be written. There is more to your story to be written too. The pen is still in His hand.

Love will have His way. Every. Single. Time.

The best is yet to be.

Merry Christmas!

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