For many close to me this is a sad Christmas. Loved ones have recently gone to be with the Lord, loved family members are ill and declining, memories of the past and happier moments keep turning up. For many this is a sad Christmas.
Sometimes we want to share our sadness with friends and loved ones, sometimes with strangers and people we have just met and feel for whatever reason like we can open up to them.
But often we don’t want to share our sadness with friends or complete strangers. Sometimes we don’t even share the sadness with ourselves and allow ourselves to feel during the holidays because we’re afraid if we cry we won’t stop crying. We keep the sadness all locked up inside of us but no matter how hard we try to keep it inside and away from others it is there wanting to be shared.
Too Many Expectations?
So much of this inner struggle is because of the expectations that are placed upon Christmas and how we should or should not be sharing during Christmas—including the expectations we place upon ourselves.
There is the expectation of “the most wonderful time of the year.” There is the expectation bred into us since we were little about being good for Santa so we can get presents and not a lump of coal. There is the expectation to plant a smile on our face and have some holiday cheer so we’re not accused of being a Grinch or a Scrooge! There is an expectation that we are suppose to share cookies, cards, and cutely decorated presents but the sadness is still there.
Here is the thing, there isn’t usually a right or wrong way about when or how you should share your sadness. There are the obvious like keeping it bottled up inside too long isn’t good for you or sharing your sadness by being angry doesn’t do anyone any good. But really, how we share our sadness is a very personal and subjective decision. One person will feel fine with we’re they’re at right now and another person will feel like they’re a mess. One person will share often while the other shares privately with their closest confidants. Apart from the obvious unhealthy ways there isn’t a right or wrong way of doing this, of how or when we share our sadness and what we do with it. There isn’t a formula to work off of. Like many things in life we learn as we go. Knowing this, it’s important to not look down upon or expect something different from how someone shares their sadness because it doesn’t look like how you share it. We are all different this way and share our experiences differently.
That is true about the other types of sharing that we are expected to do during this season as well. Sharing cookies, cards, and cutely decorated presents is all optional and individual ways of sharing the holiday season.
What Can We Share?
But as Christians we have something that we can share without any expectations attached to it. This is something that has been being shared since the beginning, since that first night in Bethlehem. It really is something you can share—maybe most importantly with yourself, especially if you’re sad this Christmas.
You can share joy this Christmas.
These were the first things the angels shared with the shepherds.
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
This is the same thing Jesus shared with HIs disciples after His resurrection.
“And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
Joy is one of those most surprising of things because it’s not a feeling, though we do feel it and it’s not a choice that we make, but it is something that is given. Joy is more like a state of being. Because Joy only comes from the promises of God given to us in Jesus. These promises that tell us what is wrong in this world will be made right in the Christmas baby and what is wrong with us will be made right when we have faith in Him. No matter what feelings we are having this holiday season, happy or sad, elf or grinch, joy we can always have joy because joy comes from God and not from us.
What makes this joy all the more appropriate for this holiday season is that it is something that God shares with you, especially when you are sad. Consider this verse about joy.
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” Luke 6:22-24
That does not seem like a time that you are blessed and it really does not seem like something you should leap for joy about. But here is the promise God gives in Jesus, for what is taken from you because of who you are as God’s children will be shared back to you in the joys of heaven.
This is why we sing Joy to the World, especially during a sad Christmas because it is a time for you as a Christian to rejoice. Whatever you have lost in this life God will fill with His very own presence as we look forward to sharing in joy with all of the Saints before us in the presence of God eternally.
When you are sad this Christmas, share God’s joy, especially with yourself, because the Christmas child has shared joy with you.