It's that time of year again, the season we've come to call "the holidays." For some, it's the most wonderful time of the year.
You look forward to parties with friends, delightful family visits, baking cookies, laughter, decorating and fun. It's like a Hallmark holiday movie or a nostalgic Norman Rockwell painting.
It's a happy time.
For others, the holiday season can be lonely or sad. Or even downright depressing.
Perhaps you've lost a loved one through death, divorce or a devastating breakup. You feel alone and isolated. Your heart is heavy, but you try to put on a smile.
Maybe your family get-togethers are challenging—they're more about fighting than feasting—or your relatives don't even gather at all.
For whatever reason you're feeling downright miserable.
You wonder how you will slug through the coming weeks, and you can't wait until the season is over.
I get it. I've been there. To be sure, I've had my own seasons of sorrow over the holiday season.
Years ago, I was nursing an unexpected breakup. I remember the fresh sadness of rejection and the feeling of being uncoupled in a very coupled world—especially at the Christmas Eve church service.
My favorite part is when each person holds up a candle in the dark sanctuary while we sing "Silent Night." It was a moment I wanted to share with a special someone, and I felt so alone.
Thankfully, God is our healer and helper. He cares that we hurt, and He longs to comfort and heal our pain and circumstances.
Over the years, I've learned to find a new perspective on this celebratory season. Here are six great ways to take the focus off your discouragement and find new joy again during the holidays.
1. Focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus is not only the "reason for the season," He is the reason for everything in our lives. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to Earth to show us how to love and how to truly live. Read Luke 2:4-19.
2. Pray. Ask God to soothe your blues and take away your loneliness or sadness. Ask Him for peace and joy, comfort and healing. Remember that God is bigger than your circumstances. He has the wisdom, power and love to change things. And, He is with us in the waiting. My book, Praying With Power When Life Gets Tough, is a good resource.
3. Serve others. Joy comes as we serve others. Perhaps there is a local food bank or homeless shelter where you can serve a holiday meal. Volunteer at your church. I remember one holiday season our church singles group offered to babysit so parents could go Christmas shopping.
4. Remember the love you have. Gratefulness leads to joy. Instead of moaning about being single at the holidays, focus on the love you already have in your life—the love of family members, friends, people from church groups, and others.
5. Start new traditions. If the people you long to be with over the holidays are not available, find others with whom to celebrate. Have a few friends over to your place for snacks and holiday movies. Host a caroling party. Invite someone over on Christmas Eve who may need a place to celebrate—a widow, a new person in town, or other singles. Be creative and start some new holiday traditions.
6. Have hope for the future. Look ahead. The New Year is just around the corner. Have hope that things can be better in the days to come. You can have hope because God has a plan. In time, the holidays will pass. But remember that God is good and faithful all year long. He will take care of you.
Here's a poem I wrote on the true meaning of Christmas. I hope it blesses you.
What is Christmas?
Christmas is where it all began,
An infant child who became a man.
Eternity came down so we could understand,
The child of Creator, the true Son of Man.
He was not unexpected, for the prophets foretold
The events that had happened would surely unfold.
Four hundred years later the miracle came,
The star over Bethlehem shone where He lay.
They came to attend Him from near and from far,
The shepherds and wise men who followed the star.
All were rejoicing that first Christmas night,
At the child of a virgin, a humbling sight.
So, what is the meaning of that first Christmas night?
Simply, He came to make everything right.
For the Child had a purpose in coming to Earth.
He came as a light and to give us new birth.
He gave us forgiveness and paid with His life.
What kind of love would pay such a price?
For death could not hold Him; He rose from that grave.
And freedom and life were the gifts that He gave.
No longer divided, no longer alone,
Because of His love the wall had come down.
Live free forever! O, what a gift!
Both now here on earth and forever with Him.
Wise men and angels followed Him then.
Wise men still seek Him, again and again.
– Jackie M. Johnson
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!