I love the holidays – the traditions, the decorations, the hustle and bustle, family and good food. Although the true reason we celebrate doesn’t have much to do with Christmas trees or Santa Clause, isn’t it amazing that by simply being born, Christ inspired a season of celebration that exudes joy and light, love and peace?
Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned, and we find ourselves in a season of darkness that intersects with the holidays. It can be hard to find joy when the Christmas lights are dim.
My family has always celebrated Christmas traditionally. Decorations up after Thanksgiving day, holiday shopping in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and Christmas Eve and Christmas day traditions that stand out like a Hallmark Movie in my mind. Although the holidays were busy, they were also filled with more laughter and joy than other seasons, and more time together as a family. The Christmas lights were always bright, and joy was easy to find.
If you read my first post (found here) you know that this time last year my husband and I found ourselves deep in the valley, in a place of darkness that brought on heaps of guilt and shame for the second time in a year. The weeks following that honest conversation between us left me feeling such a wide range of emotions it was all I could do to walk out the front door each morning. I felt a sense of peace knowing that I married an imperfect man who was strong enough to admit his struggles, knowing full well my reaction may not be laced with grace. I was angry that addiction had entered our marriage once again, and ashamed that I had missed all the signs. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief knowing that things were out in the open and I had found out in the gentlest way possible and I felt more love for my husband than I ever had before, because of the example he was setting for me.
My Christmas lights were dim last year. Although the joy and happiness and love and traditions were there, my heart wasn’t in it. In a season that should have been alive, bright, and joy-filled, I felt overcome by darkness. As we continue to process through the pain and rebuild trust a year later, this Holiday season I am clinging to the reason we celebrate – it’s the reason even our darkest times have a glimmer of hope. Good news of great joy. A baby in a manger, who came to redeem the world.
And the angel said to them, “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. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Are you in a season that seems full of darkness? It’s so hard to celebrate a season of light when you are in a valley. But you know what – it is okay. That’s something I am having to process and work through personally. I was so down about being down. I felt ashamed and guilty that I wasn’t happy. And angry that no matter how heard I tried, my heart was broken and joy was hard to find. I was sad that the holidays were foggy and it was hard to feel happy. And I continue to struggle with that, even a year later, as the holidays approach again.
I find encouragement knowing that even in our darkest times we have a light that comes from within. “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 4:6)
Even in darkness there is light because “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
If you feel overcome by darkness in this season, remember that even darkness is not dark to Christ. To him, “the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light…” (Psalm 139:11-12)
If you feel like darkness has overtaken your joy, it is okay. If your Christmas lights are dim, it is okay. Take a minute to breathe, and rest in peace knowing that darkness cannot overtake you. And darkness cannot overtake the light of Christ.
The light shines in the darkness & the darkness has not overcome it.