Originally published Friday, 13 December 2013.
Where are you spending Christmas this year? I hope it’s surrounded by family and loved ones, and I hope it’s full of good food and joy and wonder and cheer.
But if it’s not…
That’s okay too. If you’re not where you hoped you’d be this Christmas—if you’re with bickering aunts and uncles, if you’re stationed in a barracks overseas, if you’re stranded between flights, wherever, whatever—I hope you still experience joy this Christmas just the same. In fact, I know you can experience joy this Christmas, no matter where you are. Because, as Anne Marie Miller wrote, “there is beauty in every broken Christmas.”
Three years ago, Annie spent Christmas in a psych ward, being treated for PTSD. She shares her struggle with grief, her failed appetite for food and for life, and new coping mechanism—cutting. And though this Christmas in the psych ward should have gone down on record as one of the worst, to read her words, you realize just how much she learned about truly experiencing Christmas.
Although it’s been over three years since the grief and trauma fired its lies saying I had no reason to continue living, I know the battle is not over. Now I really do live one day at a time, often simply one moment at a time.
Like a newborn, this life needs complete, uninterrupted care.
It needs nurturing. Acceptance. And grace.
Grace that a newborn child brought to us over 2000 years ago in a messy, putrid, glorious room of wood and straw.
Where are you spending Christmas this year? Maybe the more important question is, where is your heart this Christmas? Are you hurting, alone, grieving? Or, maybe you’re like so many and just rushed and preoccupied. I had all these hopes of reading my advent devotional every morning and evening, of spending time watching Christmas movies and writing personal notes on all my Christmas cards. But there’s been unexpected guests, an unexpected ice storm with power outages and tree branches everywhere, unrelenting dizziness and headaches for whatever reason… my advent has not been the restful, reflective time I’ve hoped for. But still… there is grace. He is grace.
I don’t know what’s going on in your life, but I know this: this Christmas, Jesus is for you. He’s in every broken, imperfect Christmas. He made this broken, imperfect earth his temporary home so that we might have hope for an eternal home in heaven, so that every imperfect day would have us lean into him and long for all the thousands of perfect days to come.
Someday, maybe someday soon—every Christmas will be a perfect one. But it won’t be perfect because we decorated our house just so or attended a bunch of parties or got just the right gift. It will be perfect because we will be in the presence of our perfect Savior Jesus. Until then… thank you Jesus, that there’s beauty in every broken Christmas.
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.