For the past three years, Christmas has been different. There was a period of time when I was younger, when my dad was gone, and Christmas was…off. But I knew it wouldn’t always be that way. And it wasn’t. He came home, got his mind and life right, and we had magical Christmas’s—there was sparkle, joy and Christmas spirit galore. It was beautiful—some of my best memories.
Then everything changed when my dad died. He died right at the beginning of his, and our favorite time of year. From Halloween to Christmas really was the happiest time of the year in our family. But now it feels tainted and full of holes. Deep, dark holes that I’m explicitly reminded of during these three formally blissful months. It hurts. It’s this deep, cavernous ache in my soul—this constant, haunting reminder of what is missing. The past two years I’ve been able to push past it, or rather shove these feelings down so far and emote the expected holly jolly Christmas joy. But not this year. Truth—I’ve been a Scrooge. The Scroogiest of Scrooges.
On top of that, with all of the massive changes quickly approaching, my stress level has peaked and reignited my PTSD. I was diagnosed with PTSD after being with my dad as he took his final breath. My PTSD primarily manifests itself through anxiety and intrusive nightmares/flashbacks. I’m not crazy, my mother had me tested : ) But this is the first time I’ve had to deal with a resurgence of these symptoms. All I want to do is enjoy Christmas, and celebrate the birth of Christ. My heart has been so blessed by the sweet time I’ve spent with a few different advent devotionals. SheReadsTruth, Naptime Diaries Advent, Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift—they have all blessed me immensely in my relationship with God. But that’s about all I’ve been able to muster for the past 15 days.
Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means ‘coming’. We celebrate Advent as we wait for the birth of Christ. Waiting requires patience. And patience does not always come easy for me. Waiting also involves resting in the trust we have in the Lords plan. Most importantly, waiting involves working through the hard times. I’m fairly sure the Lord does not use waiting as a time when all we are expected to do is twiddle our thumbs and google things. Waiting is often meant to be hard, heavy and challenging.
So what do you do when Christmas loses its magic? I don’t know if there is perfect answer that fits everyone. For me, it’s more Jesus and wading through the gaping holes and dark spaces, searching hard for joy. When I find joy, I receive rest. A deep rest that can only come from Him.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28