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I have walked through maybe a dozen painful holiday seasons over the course of my life. While other people excitedly bought presents and baked cookies and opened up their homes, I was doing everything I could just to stay above water.
And I’m wondering if this is you too this season, if you’re hoping for a different kind of connection to Christ and the Christmas story.
Well, I’m here to tell you that your life does not have to be perfect – or even close to it - to experience a meaningful holiday season, to deeply experience the love of the baby Jesus turned Savior. He will meet you where you are, even in your season of sadness or pain.
I picture being in Mary’s shoes. I’m young. I’m engaged to a good man. My life is planned out. I know my lot and my place in the world. And then an angel comes to me and tells me that I will become pregnant because the Holy Spirit will come upon me. And Mary handles this with the grace and calm and wisdom of not just a woman older than her years but a woman who is practically otherworldly.
And I think through how I would’ve handled this.
I think it’s safe to say that I would not have been so accepting.
I think it’s safe to say that I would have had my doubts.
I think it’s safe to say that I would have been scared. Really scared.
And I think it’s safe to say, sadly, that I would have been angry. Angry that my sweet little life that I had planned out was not going to go the way I thought.
I have had many of those moments. When I’ve looked around my life, when I have sat with the reality of who I was and where I was and the people who were around me and how my choices had shaped me, and I was not always pleased with what I saw.
I have been angry with people in my life.
I have been angry with myself.
And I have been angry, if I’m completely honest, with God for either allowing certain circumstances or causing them to come to pass.
And perhaps this is you today. Christmas is just up ahead. You are supposed to be celebratory.
And yet, maybe you have just gotten a diagnosis that changes everything. Maybe one of your children has placed distance between you in any manner of ways. Maybe your spouse has died or left you or told you he’s leaving you or is currently being unfaithful or abusive or floundering in an addiction. Maybe you hate your job. Maybe you just lost your job. Maybe you can’t find a job.
It could be anything. Anything at all that doesn’t line up with the life you had hoped for or at the very least had assumed you would be living.
And today, with the holidays approaching, you are angry. At someone. At yourself. At life. At God.
You might be angry with God just as you’re supposed to be acting like you’re super happy to be celebrating the gift of his Son’s arrival.
Today as I write, I’m angry about something. I’m upset with God for taking something away. And my anger isn’t going to dissipate just because “it’s coming on Christmas.”
We are allowed our anger, just like any human emotion. But what we do with it is what matters. So today, sweet one, I suggest you lay it out before God. He can handle it.
Be angry and do not sin (Ephesians 4:26a).
God, I come to you angry. You know why I am. But I don’t want to become a bitter person, especially during this season. So I am giving it to you. Please meet me in this pain. Please teach me and heal me and help me choose kindness. Amen.
Excerpted from Holidays for the Hurting, (C) Elisabeth Klein, 2014
Elisabeth is a single mom to two teenagers. She loves spending time with her kids, her friends, reading and writing. She is the author of Moving on as a Single Christian Mom, Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman, Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage, Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage, At the Corner of Broken & Love; One Girl, Third World; He Is Just That Into You; In Search of Calm: Renewal for a Mother’s Heart; and Calm in My Chaos: Encouragement for a Mom’s Weary Soul. All these books can be purchased on Amazon.com. Visit her website at elisabethklein.com.
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Publication date: December 2, 2014