How to Find Joy When Your Heart Aches at Christmas
I got the text message right after the church service ended. It said, “Mom passed away yesterday afternoon.” My eyes welled up with tears as I turned to share the news with my husband.
My soul has ached over the last few days and I’m finding it hard to enjoy this season because the reality is, life still happens in December.
I’m all too familiar with heartache at Christmas. It’s a broken road I’ve traveled many times. 10 years ago, my dad died on Christmas Eve. And the cold, hard truth is that it’s just plain difficult to rejoice over the birth of my Savior when mourning the death of a parent.
Or when family members don’t receive you and the holiday gathering is not a place where you want to gather.
Or when you can’t afford to buy gifts for your children.
Or when you’re too sick to care about any of it, like I am today.
I want to run from it all. All the responsibilities I have as a wife and mom to pull off Christmas. As well as the responsibilities I have to be the Light to those who don’t know Truth. Frankly, I don’t want to be the Light. I’m emotionally and physically tired. And the last thing I want to do is die to myself.
But I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that when I lay down my life is when I’ll really find the life I want.
If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. Matt. 10:39 NLT
Finding and choosing joy over heartache requires me to be intentional with my thoughts and actions.
If I’m not careful, I can spiral down into a pit of depression and hang out there until January 2nd when all of the celebrations and festivities are over.
But I just can’t take this path because depression won’t soothe my soul. Sure, having a depressed outlook will help me create one of the most fabulous pity parties I could ever imagine. But, I know what will happen to me when the party is over…I’ll end up with even more depression and despair will be lurking on the front porch of my soul.
Yes, I’ll grieve because it’s a biblical premise.
As stated in the book of Ecclesiastes, there is a time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. Ecc. 3:4
But I’ve learned over all of these years I’ve got to fight to find and choose joy when I’m living in the land of pain and sorrow.
When Christmas aches, choosing joy is a gift we all need to seek out because Christ is the essence of joy.
How to Find Joy When Your Heart Aches at Christmas
Here are 5 things I do to find joy when my heart hurts.
1. Take time to Rest.
We all need to be refueled, whether it’s physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Give yourself permission to take a break from it all. Turn off your phone and take a nap if you need to. My girlfriends know I’ll do this for a time. But they also know that I’ll have a tendency to want to run from their love and isolate myself.
2.Go where you are loved and accepted.
Fellowship with other believers is imperative. Leave the toxic relationships behind as you don’t need any more drama in your life. And you don’t need to explain yourself to anyone. And don’t even think about being isolated. Satan will pounce all over this one if you allow yourself to pull away from others.
3.Head in the direction of what brings you joy.
This could be spending time in God’s Word and/or listening to Christ-centered Christmas music. Currently what I’m playing in my home is Chris Tomlin’s Christmas Album, Adore. It’s a great album that points you right back to our Savior.
Or maybe you enjoy cooking, baking, crafting, etc. When my dad died years ago, I scrapbooked for two straight weeks! Years later, now I’m spending my time writing to you. 🙂
4.Minister to others.
There is always a need around me if I look close enough. Sometimes others are going through a harder time than I am and this pursuit helps me to be others minded.
5.Look for Christ to show up in your times of sorrow.
Sometimes this activity is my favorite. In essence, I’m watching and waiting for the Lord to show up and do miracles in my life as He ministers to me. And He always does!
I make it a habit to be a woman who looks for Him so I can lean on Him because He is my Rock.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:2
If your heart is aching this Christmas, simply put, pursue Jesus because it is in this place that you’ll find true joy.
I’m so sorry about the passing of your mom, Jolene!
I’m thankful for this writing, though. I’ve had a few years like this and I HAD to look for comfort, peace, and joy in God’s Word.
Thank you for the hope that you write in this post!
Love to you during this time, my friend!!
Aww, thanks Kela!
Thanks Jolene this is just what I needed to hear this Christmas. Lost my mom exactly two months ago, it’s our first Christmas without her and it’s not so fun remembering her role when she was still alive. It’s like a dream but like you rightly said, there is time for everything, now is the time to celebrate the birth of my Lord so I will do just that. Merry Christmas.
So glad to hear what I shared helped you, Nene.
I’m sorry to hear of your loss, Jolene!
Bless you my dear Sister Friend Jolene Engel, my heart goes out to you as prayers go up for you in such a time as this. Rest in Him and abide in His love . Our Father will comfort and keep you.
I’m so sorry, Jolene. Verses right now are not too comforting I am sure….time with other loved ones and all our prayers – may you feel them…..I will be praying. It’s been so long since you heard from me……I’m sorry for that, also. I am grateful I read this just now. Hugging you through the airwaves. Love and prayers, Cordy
Thank you for sharing this. Be blessed this Christmas and take that nap when you need to!
so sorry Jolene at the passing of your Mom…soo so sorry but thank you for sharing…may God bless you with His peace and grace.Its Never easy to part with Parents or loved ones for that matter..the pain is hard but there is joy in going to Jesus to find rest and healing!!..love Leah
Thank you so much! I woke up this morning with the a “party hang over” . I scheduled well this Christmas and nothing had to be rushed. We had a great day on Christmas as a family.
The question is all ways what now. Plenty of life still needs to be created but how do I rest without getting depressed. Instead I am so afraid of being depressed so I don’t rest.
Thank you for the encouragement. Writing is a great release.
I stumbled across this article, and I really wanted to thank you for it. A good friend of mine went home with Jesus two weeks before this Christmas, and while it made the Christmas spirit hard to get back into, it has been wonderful to watch Christ’s healing power. Thank you for these suggestions!
So glad it helped you!
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