When All Is Not Merry and Bright

Last December was the lowest of the low points for me. Instead of decorating the Christmas tree, I wanted to hide in my bed. Instead of baking goodies with my kids I wanted to cry into my pillow. Instead of looking at Christmas lights, I wanted to revel in the darkness of my bedroom. Instead of finding joy in Christmas songs and hymns, all I felt was despair. Depression had a tight grip on me and didn’t seem to be letting go. I didn’t know what to do or how to be there for my family. I made very few efforts to do anything Christmas-related. It was all I could do to keep waking up each day and putting one foot in front of the other. All was not merry and bright.

I ended up spending 12 days of December in a psychiatric hospital getting treatment for my depression. I cried at night, praying for my girls who I knew were missing me, praying for my husband who just wanted his wife at home. The guilt and shame I felt for being gone yet again was heavy. I threw myself the world’s largest pity party. There were so many things I felt like I should have been doing, and yet there I was in the hospital, feeling worthless and useless. How could Christmas be anything but bad?

Christmas, however, doesn’t depend on me. Christmas is about celebrating God made flesh, God with us–Emmanuel. Christmas is about how the light came to shine in the darkest of places–in the darkness of our own hearts–so that we could be called children of light, children of God. The beauty and wonder of Christmas is that the Son of God came to earth and experienced all the highs and lows of life. He was hungry and thirsty. He was tired. In Matthew 26:38 Jesus tells His disciples that He was sorrowful to the point of death. He knows pain intimately, and there is nothing we face that He cannot know and understand. Even at my lowest of lows, I was not alone.

Last year I made it home just in time for Christmas with my family, and I was met with nothing but love. At the end of the day, my girls don’t need a Hallmark-worthy house; they need their mama. And Jesus. I have realized that God has not called me to create a Pinterest-perfect holiday for my family. God has not called me to be like the filtered images I see in my scrolls through Facebook and Instagram. God has called me to be His. God has called me to be faithful, both to Him and to the ones He entrusts me with. With Him, there is more than enough love to go around. With Him, there is no end to the merry and bright days we can have.

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