Don’t push yourself and end up feeling drained or more pained by the end of the holiday season. What is more important is that you go to God and rest in His presence.
The holiday season is an exciting time for many individuals; however, for others, the holidays can be a daunting time. Rather than feeling excited about the holiday, we can feel discouraged or even depressed. If you are dreading the holiday season, here are some words of encouragement:
You’re Not Alone
Dreading the holiday season is not uncommon as many individuals don’t look forward to the holidays. Know that if you aren't ready for all the bright lights and festive cheer, you’re not alone. Even though holidays are supposed to be times of joy, love, and celebration, they are times of sadness, pain, and loss for others. My mother passed away six years ago in October, which is right before the genesis of the holiday season. Maybe you lost a loved one right before or during the holiday season, making it difficult to feel like celebrating anything.
Since my mom passed away, the holiday season has not been the same. My mom used to bring joy, brightness, and love into the holiday season that simply is not there anymore. Without my mom being here, it is hard to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas. It almost feels wrong to even be happy around the holidays because she isn’t here. The holiday season has returned year after year, yet my mom never will.
While this can be a hard truth to swallow, it is vital that we don’t ignore the elephant in the room. For years, my family and I tried to cope with the death of my mother, and it was impossible. We are all reserved individuals who are afraid to express our emotions, feelings, and fears. Maybe your family is the same way. I encourage you to be open and vulnerable with those you love and tell them about the pain you are experiencing. Do not simply bury your emotions deep into the recesses of your heart—instead, talk about them to others. God never wanted you to walk through this life alone.
Maybe a loved one has passed away, a long-term relationship ended, or you’ve been diagnosed with an incurable illness. All of these struggles can make the upcoming holidays feel difficult, unmanageable, or without hope. My friend, I have been in your shoes, and I’m still presently standing in them. Navigating a holiday after a traumatic event is difficult, to say the least. It can catch us off guard at how much dread fills our hearts surrounding the holiday season compared to the joy we felt before the trauma.
You’re not alone in your sufferings. Whatever you are going through, there has been another person in your place before. My friend from college lost her fiancé in a car accident the day after Christmas a few years ago. While Christmas should be a holiday full of joy, smiles, and love, my friend remembers it as the anniversary of the day before her late fiancé’s death. Over the years, my friend has healed, yet memories of him around Christmastime are bound to slip into her mind. The sadness, pain, and loss she felt on that day in December all those years ago still stays with her, yet she is one of the strongest, bravest, and most compassionate people I know.
Encouragement in the Dark Times
It can be tough to dread the holiday season because many individuals will not understand your struggle. Instead of being sympathetic, many people will ask you, “Why are you so upset?” or “Just find more joy in the Lord!” While these individuals are trying to be helpful, they truly are not being helpful at all. Dealing with grief, pain, or loss during the holiday season is no easy task, especially when everyone expects you to be happy or sing Christmas carols at the top of your lungs. If we’re honest, most of us don’t feel like simply getting out of bed on the morning of Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Due to the pain surrounding the holiday season, we tend to avoid it. If you need time to recover and step away from the holiday scene, that is completely reasonable. Loved ones will understand why you want to skip Thanksgiving dinner or the Christmas celebration. Trying to be happy when you’re not is not a good skill to cultivate. From my own personal experience, I have mastered the art of being fake happy to the point that I can hide my feelings, fears, and pain. My friend, don’t do as I have done. If you feel you need time to grieve, cry, or be alone, take time to do it. Those who truly care about you will understand.
During the holiday season, we can also feel extremely alone. After my mom passed as a teen, I often got jealous when I saw daughters with their mothers, shopping for Christmas presents or at a pumpkin patch together. I envied them in my heart because I knew I never had that type of relationship with my mom, and now, I never would. It caused great feelings of envy, pain, and loneliness to creep into my bones. Instead of being happy for them, I just felt pain. Now, years later, I still have tears filling my eyes, but I can be happy for the other daughters who do have a healthy relationship with their mother while they are both alive.
Through the holiday season and every other season of the year, God is still with us. He promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). While the changing of the seasons is inevitable, God’s love for us never changes. The Lord isn’t afraid of our pain as we can pour our hearts out to Him any day, any time. He wants us to come to Him and lay all our feelings at His feet. We acknowledge our dependence on Him each time we go to Him in prayer and ask for His help.
Don’t push God away during this dark season of your life. You need to draw closer to Him and rest in His love for you. God doesn’t mind if you don’t celebrate holidays as He solely asks that you come to Him and praise Him. Nothing in the Bible tells us that if we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas, it makes us bad people. Rather, if you need a break from the holiday season, take a break. Don’t push yourself and end up feeling drained or more pained by the end of the holiday season. What is more important is that you go to God and rest in His presence.
Friend, if there were a magical word I could say to heal you of the dread you are feeling, I would; however, no magical word can heal anyone of the pain they have experienced. I encourage you to turn to the Lord, pour out your heart to Him, and allow His love to heal you piece by piece. While holidays may always be difficult for you, it is possible to continue to heal and once again find your love for this season. For me, it wasn’t until this year, six years after my mom’s death, that I could finally enjoy the start of fall again. Friend, don’t give up, continue to lean on the Lord, and don’t be afraid to be open about your feelings.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/FotoDuets
Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.