Christmas has so many wonderful moments. Unfortunately, strands of loss and grief alter Christmas joy for many people each year. Approaching Christmas is hard when your heart is breaking. Depression in the holidays is a real thing.
Depression is experienced by many people during the holidays. If you are one of them, you are not alone. Life is hard. You may have had a terrible loss, a deep disappointment, a health issue, or something else that has pierced your heart this past year. It’s possible the painful life event even happened some years ago. You are not unhealthy for still feeling the sting, but you may need to find some healthy responses to move forward and be a balanced, hopeful person.
The Holidays and Life Tragedies
The holidays are affected by tragic life developments. It takes time to adjust your emotions, your responsibilities, your schedule, and sometimes your relationships. If this is your first holiday since the life event, it will be harder. Depression in the holidays is painful, but it is also common for many folks. However, I encourage you to not let your tragedy define you. These kinds of life events definitely affect you significantly – and often change your life completely. But it would be tragic to let them define you.
You are defined by your Creator, who loves you deeply. He gave you a unique personality, skill sets, experiences, interests, and a place in history. As tough as life may get for you, Jesus wants to walk with you through it. Jesus understands depression in the holidays. He is with you this Christmas, and is ready to guide you through the rest of your life in a meaningful, purposeful way.
One of the most painful experiences is a phenomenon known as an “echo.” Echoes appear suddenly, unexpectedly, surprisingly. They are challenging to manage because – all it takes is a sound, a sight, a smell, a memory, a breeze – and you experience the unwelcome invasion grief. Sometimes you melt in a heap. Tears appear out of nowhere. The knife of sadness pierces yet again. So, what do you do?
You Are Not Alone
Please accept God’s invitation to draw close to Him in your heart. He invites you. “Come near to God, and He will come near to you” – even in your moment of echo. (Ja. 4:8) He loves you. Let yourself Reach Back* to God, and let your life event drive you into God’s heart. Resting in His love for you is a blessing you can take away from your loss. And no one – nothing – can ever take that away from you. Not even depression in the holidays.
Remember, Scripture strongly teaches that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34:18) Emmanuel, “God With Us,” promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Josh. 1:5; Heb. 13:5) And God defines what His love for you looks like. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jer. 31:3) The Lord is making it abundantly clear that He is for you. He intends to renew your life and your hope as you trust Him. Won’t you let Him heal your broken heart?
Some Management Tips
Use your echoes and heart wrenching experiences during the holidays to propel you into God’s heart. Literally throw yourself into Him – as if you are jumping from a cliff into a safe and protective cloud. He will catch you, hold you, comfort you, and keep you in a stable, safe place. “The one who trusts in Me will never be put to shame.” (Rom. 9:33)
You can still have JOY in the holidays even if you are managing depression or sadness. So often, opposing realities co-exist in our lives. Sadness does not eliminate joys that are still present. Depression does not negate God’s blessings, rich and full. God loves you. Will you open your heart and let Him help you?
- Use echoes to propel you into God’s heart.
- Jump into God’s safety. It’s a “faith thing.”
- Look for blessings around you. Start counting them. Even keep a list. Tell them to a dear friend.
- Don’t be afraid of your sadness. Although it is uncomfortable, it is part of your life. Acknowledge it.
- Every sadness that rises in your heart, share it with Jesus. He cares how you feel and experiences your sadnesses with you. Emmanuel – “God With You!”. Instead of lingering in that sadness, release it into His great over care.
- You can still cherish any precious memories you might have. And you can “let go” of the sorrowful memories. Jesus is a Divine Sponge. He soaks up the brokenness you give to Him. It’s a “faith thing.”
- Accept the incredible “gift exchange” from Jesus: ” . . . for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Is. 61:3) It’s a “faith thing.”
- Don’t pull into yourself. Keep active. Reach out to others. Guess what. Others are hurting, too . . . in different ways. Sometimes people can comfort one another.
- Eagerly participate in precious Christmas traditions you’ve cherished. Invent some new ones. Share them with others.
- Practice cheer. This is a decision, not a feeling.
- Welcome into your heart – your Wonderful Counselor, your Mighty God, your Everlasting Father, your Prince of Peace. It’s a “faith thing.”
- Focus on JOY.
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* Reach Back is a study that focuses on the human element – your portion – of being in a relationship with God. It shows you how to partner with God by asking thoughtful questions and challenging you to think deeply about life issues. The 19 lessons invite you into the adventure of knowing God. They help you become the mature and healthy person He created you to be. Do you want God as much as He wants you?