Talk about an awkward family Christmas, this was it. The worst Christmas ever. I truly believed my family was beyond hope. I was shocked, embarrassed and so unbelievably sad that this was how we would spend our Christmas. How could this happen ON CHRISTMAS EVE? This couldn’t really be my family. This couldn’t really be happening.
That Christmas Eve, my mom called me and told me she was going to end her life. My mom had struggled with alcohol and anxiety for some time but the depression and pills were not something I was aware of until that night. She was in so much pain and I didn’t know. I knew she was not happy but I didn’t know the severity of it until she called me that night in complete desperation wanting to end it all. It was terrifying to say the least. Fortunately, she did not take her life. Instead, she was checked into a mental health facility where she would stay for 2 weeks.
That Christmas, my family spent Christmas in a painful and awkward existence. We all tried to move through the day. We put on smiles for each other and for my nieces and nephews. We did all the things my mom would do on Christmas but inside we were heartbroken and lost. Christmas was my mom’s favorite holiday and she wasn’t there. We were not even allowed to visit her. I scrolled on social media looking at all my friend’s pictures and videos of their time with their families. It seemed so beautiful and pure which was so different from the darkness my family was experiencing. I couldn’t post pictures of us laughing and enjoying ourselves. I was envious of what I thought others had; a better family than mine. Why did my family have to be so broken? Why did I have to come from such a broken family?
Just a couple years earlier, I had come to know Jesus and had experienced so much healing and hope. I wanted this for my family but instead it was just pain and brokenness. It felt like such a weight.
But that Christmas, Pastor Chris preached on how God is working to bring hope into the darkness that exists in our world and in our lives. And he said something that I will never forget. He said, not every Christmas has to have joy but every Christmas can have hope. Those words breathed life into our situation. That Christmas was not filled with joy but that didn’t mean it had to be void of hope. I can be in pain but still hold on to the hope of what God can do. I have come back to those words so many times. Our hope does not have to be placed on whether or not our family is healthy or full of joy. He is my family. He is my father. And my hope is from Him and who He says I am.
A year later, Christmas looked much different. That year, my mom got healthy! She had started painting again and planting flowers. She showered her grandkids with love, entertained family, and baked until there were absolutely no canisters left for her amazing Christmas cookies. She was happy and whole. She had come back to God! That year my mom and I began to pray together on the phone. I was able to talk to her about my life and we developed the best relationship we had ever had.
The truth is that even in the most hopeless situations God can move mountains. Even when it seems that there is no light in the darkness, God can make a way. If this is you this Holiday season, I see you friend! You are not alone. Draw near to Jesus and let him comfort you. Believe that He can do the impossible. Your Christmas doesn’t have to look pretty or ideal! Families are messy but we don’t have to be ashamed or embarrassed. We live in a broken world so not every Christmas will have joy but take heart because every Christmas can have the hope of Jesus Christ.