The holidays can be joyous. For others it can be the culmination of pain acquired over time.
Sometimes it’s the loss of a loved one. A broken relationship. Health issues. Even a test of one’s faith. On a very personal level, this Christmas has probably been the most challenging I’ve ever experienced. It’s the first in the divorce chapter of my life. Having kids and the loss of that time with them only intensifies the hurt.
This is, in a way, the first Christmas without my source of wisdom and strength…my best friend: Dad. He unexpectedly passed two months prior to last Christmas. The loss was so sudden and so close to Christmas chronologically speaking. When coupled with the scavenging and selling of his things, the visit to his home was surreal. Those who would sanitize his memory made me question if Christmas even took place last year. As time moves me further from the loss, I know I must come to terms with how Christmas will be in the years ahead.
And I say, unashamedly, at times I find myself reduced to tears.
These losses have undoubtedly left a gaping wound in my heart. But I have a choice: I can choose to ruminate about my wounds, or I can choose to let loose my grip and let God heal.
Of course, a key step toward healing is to not forget the blessings. I am grateful for the realtionships that I do have with my daughters. For the relationships with my friends. For the roof over my head and the job that pays my bills. There are so many who aren’t as fortunate.
Knowing one’s blessings, however, doesn’t remove the hurt entirely. Even people of great faith know the pain of loss. But it is faith — and hope — in a God who loved us so much, he came to be among us. Afterall, that is the reason for Christmas, right?
Recently I came to understand the meaning behind a particular song that I had always found to be lyrically and musically poetic. More importantly, I discovered it’s fitting for anyone who’s lost a loved one and by their faith knows their loved one has reached his/her reward in heaven. It’s also a charge for those of us who remain to live our lives as our loved ones would want us. As explained and performed by Sting:
“Sometimes I see your face. Stars seem to lose their place. Why must I think of you? Why must I…Why should I…Why should I cry for you? Why would you want me to?”
Amidst all the commercialism and consumerism of Christmas, we often forget the deeper meaning of Christ’s birth: That God came to be human among us. He came to know not just our joys, but also our sufferings.
My Christmas tears can only be a grieving for myself. And so, Dad, I can no longer cry for you. I look forward to that day when we can all join in the celebration. And as for the here and now? I shall strive to live that life both my Fathers in heaven want me to live.
May the peace and love of the new born Christ be with you all this Christmas season.