It was Taylor Swift singing Silent Night that finally broke me.
“Silent night, holy night, He’s here.”
I wanted more than anything for Him to be here.
I pulled over on the side of the interstate and cried. I cried because I was angry and sad, and I desperately wanted to know my broken heart was in the Great Physician’s hand.
He’s here, right? Where?
It’s Christmas, and I can only sit back and watch the joy of the people around me. I have none. More than anything, Christmas reminds me of my brokenness, of the pain I can’t seem to beat back, of the heavy weight of fear that cloaks my life. As I watch people get excited and decorate trees and sing carols, I just want to crawl back in bed and sleep until it’s over and all the happy people go find something else to be excited about.
It’s Christmas. It’s a time of joy. He came. He’s here. God with us.
I don’t feel much of anything at all.
My favorite Christmas song is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. It speaks of the brokenness and the deep longing for God’s presence. It begs Him to be near when He just seems so far away. It’s a cry for rescue to the God who seems to have abandoned His people.
Are you allowed to feel abandoned on Christmas?
I think it might be okay to be broken at Christmas, to struggle with joy, to be unable to honestly sing the happy songs, and to be left shattered and crying out, “Where are you?”
There is a place in the Christmas story for the broken people.
Christmas is, in and of itself, a cry out to the darkness that everything is not as it should be. It’s a scream of frustration and shattered hearts. It’s calling for something (or Someone) to come into the brokenness and mend the rift.
Christmas is recognizing the hopelessness we are left in without a Savior. We celebrate Christmas because God showed up, but God showed up because we needed something to push back the darkness.
It’s okay to be broken this Christmas because brokenness is why Christmas exists.
And if you can’t find your way around your hurting heart this Christmas, please don’t imagine that makes you any less. Please don’t think that you’re alone. The original Christmas story isn’t all pink-cheeked babes and soft, cuddly sheep.
It was a time when so many people were displaced from their homes for a census, there wasn’t even room for a man and his pregnant wife at an inn. For many, it was a time of massacre, a time when Herod killed all the boys two years old and under in Bethlehem and the following region. There is pain in the story of hope, but it’s a reminder that God shows up even in the midst of feeling lost and broken.
It’s not always how we expect Him to appear, it’s not with fanfare and trumpets, and it’s not usually very comfortable. But He shows up. In the midst of the darkness, He’s there. Somehow, in the middle of this cosmic chess match God decided a baby would be His next best move.
“And God became flesh. Check.”
If you’re hurting this Christmas, it’s okay. If you can’t find God or Christmas cheer or hope or life, it’s okay. There is a place at the table for you. There is a place in this story for you because God shows up. He is absent, and His absence hurts and feels like a yawning hole in the middle of your chest, but let Christmas remind you that He will still come.
He will not abandon you to the pain, even when it feels overwhelming. He will not leave you to fend off the demons on your own, even when your sword is getting too heavy to swing. He will not let you drift away on the sea of loneliness and sadness that threatens to drown you.
He came. He is coming. He is here.
So this year, believe in magic. Believe in hope. Even when it feels like it’s all falling apart or like you can’t feel anything at all, cling to the knowledge that this is not the end. We will not end in hopelessness and despair. It’s not over until the Hero returns and sweeps us away. This year, if God feels distant, it’s okay. Look for Him. Wait for Him. He is here and He is coming and He is never far.
I don’t know how to be happy this Christmas. I’m not. I’m struggling deeply with my depression and anxiety. I’m struggling with not feeling anything except an all-encompassing agony that assures me that destruction is imminent, and if that’s not enough, my anxiety is quietly but persistently telling me that I’m failing everyone because I can’t be happy right now.
“And where is God?” I ask. Because I’m angry, and I’m hurting, and I want Him. And He feels so far away. I know He could take this all away, but He won’t and that feels even worse than abandonment.
But I also know that I am never truly alone. I know that He will never actually abandon me. I know that if I draw near to Him, He will draw near to me. I know that I can search Him out in my brokenness, and He won’t hide even though it feels like He’s the master of hide and seek.
The Bible is full of instances of God’s children crying out to Him and asking Him where He is or why He’s abandoned them. I never realized feeling His absence was such a universal problem. I’m so glad it is. I’m so glad I can call out to Him with confidence, knowing that in my brokenness I’m heard.
The whole earth groans for Him, and this Christmas I will lift my voice, a tiny voice buried in all the cries around me and say, “Where are you, God?”
And He will answer, “I’m came. I’m here. And I’m coming again.”
If you’re broken this Christmas, there’s still a place for you.