I use to joke that the holidays weren’t complete until someone cried — unfortunately, it was usually me. Introvert plus tender-hearted plus broken family equals lots of tears.
For the longest time I thought there was something wrong with me. Why did these joyous occasions leave me depleted and depressed while everyone else seemed to thrive? Yes, part of it is my introversion, but the truth is that even extroverts struggle during the holidays.
We all mourn memories and loved ones passed. Empty seats seem especially poignant on days specified for fullness and family. Tense family relations, the disappointment of not meeting our own expectations, and general weariness of all the things that need to be done make our holidays not quite the jolly event we hoped for. We strive to make the perfect memories, but we are always left wanting as the calendar turns to a new year.
So what are we going to do about it? Are we really going to have another crappy holiday season?
I don’t want to. And I’m sure you don’t either. So before this holiday season begins, let’s prepare our hearts.
How to Start Preparing Your Heart for the Holidays
Acknowledge Your Pain
Sometimes, the holidays are the most painful part of the year. It hurts. It hurts to miss our loved ones. It hurts when our family is mean. And it hurts when they don’t measure up to the picture-perfect Facebook posts of friends.
We live in a broken world. Of course, we are going to feel pain. Acknowledge that it’s there.
My favorite way to recognize and process my feelings is by writing. I take my favorite pens and journal and pour out my deepest, rawest emotions.
Whatever it is that helps you process pain, seek it before the holidays start. This may include talking to a trusted friend or counselor. Give yourself permission to lean into the pain.
Remember Your Reason
Write down why you are celebrating this year. This may seem silly, but focusing our minds on the “reason for the season” helps us to keep everything in perspective.
As Christian, we observe Christmas to celebrate the birth of our Savior—who humbly lowered himself down to human status in this broken, broken world to be born in a manger and crucified on a cross. And He did all of this for love.
For God so loved the world. . .
When are earthly life is depressing and miserable, there is nothing better to cling to than the reminder of God’s bold and uncontainable love. Cling to Him.
Lean Heavily on God
God is close to the brokenhearted. He is not a stranger to pain. It’s more than okay to lean into that grief and seek your Father for comfort.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18 –
We can choose to let our holiday baggage make us bitter and disillusioned or we can let it be the catalyst to a deeper relationship with our King. I encourage you to find an Advent study to prepare your heart and focus on reason for celebrating in the first place.
I’m using the She Reads Truth “Born is the King” Advent study. Their 2014 study completely changed how I thought about Jesus and the Gospel. I’m really looking forward to November 29 to start this one.
I also really love Ann Voskamp’s two Advent books:
The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas
Unwrapping the Great Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas (We are reading this as a family this year!)
Get Started Preparing Your Heart for the Holidays
Keep loving well, sweet friend!
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