Christmas has so many wonderful moments. Unfortunately, strands of loss and grief alter Christmas joy for many each year. Approaching Christmas is hard when your heart is breaking.
Depression is experienced by many people during the holidays. If you are one of them, you are not alone. Life is hard. You may have had a terrible loss, a deep disappointment, a health issue, or something else that has pierced your heart this past year. It’s possible the painful life event even happened some years ago. You are not unhealthy for still feeling the sting, but you may need to find some healthy responses to move forward and be a balanced, hopeful person.
The holidays are affected by tragic life developments. It takes time to adjust your emotions, your responsibilities, your schedule, and sometimes your relationships. If this is your first holiday since the life event, it will be harder. However, I encourage you to not let your tragedy define you. These kinds of life events definitely affect you significantly – and often change your life completely. But it would be tragic to let them define you.
You are defined by your Creator, who loves you deeply. He gave you a unique personality, skill sets, experiences, interests, and place in history. As tough as life may get for you, Jesus wants to walk with you through it. He is already in all your tomorrows and knows how to guide you through the rest of your life in a meaningful, purposeful way.
One of the most painful experiences is a phenomenon known as an “echo.” Echoes appear suddenly, unexpectedly, surprisingly. They are challenging to manage because – all it takes is a sound, a sight, a smell, a memory, a breeze – and you experience the unwelcome invasion grief. Sometimes you melt in a heap. Tears appear out of nowhere. The knife of sadness pierces yet again. So, what do you do?
Please accept God’s invitation to draw close to Him in your heart. He invites you. “Come near to God, and He will come near to you” – even in your moment of echo. (Ja. 4:8) He loves you. Let yourself Reach Back* to God, especially when you are experiencing an echo. Let your life event drive you into God’s heart. Getting to know Him more and resting in His love for you is a redemptive blessing you can take away from your loss. And no one – NO ONE – can ever take that away from you.
Remember, Scripture strongly teaches that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34:18) Emmanuel, “God With Us,” promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Josh. 1:5; Heb. 13:5) And God defines what His love for you looks like. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jer. 31:3) The Lord is making it abundantly clear that He is for you. He intends to renew your life and your hope as you trust Him. Won’t you let Him heal your broken heart? He is the best Dr. to trust yourself to.
Use your echoes and all other heart wrenching experiences during the holidays to propel you into God’s heart. Literally throw yourself into Him – as if you are jumping from a cliff into a safe and protective cloud. He will catch you, hold you, comfort you, and keep you in a stable, safe place. “The one who trusts in Me will never be put to shame.” (Rom. 9:33)
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For more information on depression in the holidays, register for this free holiday class. It’s not too late to join. You can pop into class at your own convenience, night or day, and learn more about how to manage your sadness during the Christmas season.
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* Reach Back is a study that focuses on the human element – your portion – of being in a relationship with God. It shows you how to partner with God by asking thoughtful questions and challenging you to think deeply about life issues. The 19 lessons invite you into the adventure of knowing God. They help you become the mature and healthy person He created you to be. Do you want God as much as He wants you?
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