Editor’s note: Julie White, a graduate of Generation 18, brings a valuable perspective during a time of year when the reality of life crosses path with the joy of Christmas. Julie is the founder and Executive Director of “The Unfolding Soul”; a ministry which offers people spiritual rest and renewal so they can deepen their connection with God. Julie is a mother, grandmother, speaker, and author.
Heavy hearts, like heavy clouds in the sky, are best relieved by the letting of a little water. ~Christopher Morley
As I faced Christmas, I felt heavy-hearted. We had been overseeing my older brothers’ care ever since he faced major health issues, and now he had passed away. Returning home from vacation, our RV caught on fire on the freeway. Between the fire damage and smoke residue, it was totaled. One of our children faced a period of depression and struggled to work through it. And there was a relationship at work that had gone awry, and I wasn’t sure if it could be repaired.
It was not the year I anticipated, nor hoped for. Feelings of grief and sadness enveloped me. I felt heavy-hearted and overwhelmed by loss, nightmares and distress. Yet, all around me was a world filled with Christmas decorations, cheery music, and bright lights.
I felt unable to process my feelings and find God in my pain.
Whether it’s broken relationships, illness or loss, the changes we face, or simply the demands of life, we sometimes can feel adrift and exposed. Our feelings may seem raw…or we may feel nothing at all.
And somehow, the joy of Christmas can add weight to our heavy hearts. The fact that we are not happy during this happy season causes us to feel even more out of sorts.
What can we do when we are heavy-hearted at Christmas?
The quote above by Christopher Morley is a great reminder that tears need to be expressed as we process our responses to life. If we do not allow ourselves to cry, we may metaphorically feel like we’re going to burst like the cloud he mentions!
There seem to be some similar steps to the process of unburdening our sad soul: they include denial, anger and acceptance. However, both the sequence of grief…and the length of grief…will be experienced uniquely by each person.
The commonality, though, is that if we don’t allow ourselves to grieve, our souls will still carry the weight, and the pain, and will hover over us like a rain cloud.
So we neither can hurry our feelings, or “just get over it” because someone – or we ourselves – tell us to move on. Nor should we feel the need to put our feelings on hold, simply because it’s Christmas time.
Rather, our feelings are a healthy and necessary outlet to help us express and deal with what happens in our lives. Through facing loss and sadness, and allowing the time we need to reflect on, cry over and talk about our sadness – we give honor to what we actually feel. This process helps us release the overflowing “cloud” that hangs above us, and actually leads to our spirits healing more quickly.
So – even at Christmas – we may need to find time to grieve.
If you are feeling heavy-hearted during this season, please give yourself time to reflect and process your feelings. Gaining a new perspective, and finding the “new normal” to go forward in your life, takes some time. Give yourself permission to do a little less, so you can spend some extra time with God, and let him lift the heaviness from your heart.
Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to earth to give us hope and peace. For those today who feel heavy-hearted with loss or sadness, I pray for your comfort. Help us to remember that you felt loss while you walked on this earth, and that you are present with us in our moments of pain. Thank you that Christmas reminds us all of your love and mercy to us…even when – and perhaps especially when – we feel heavy-hearted. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.