A Note from Chris Adams: Perhaps you are entering the Christmas season with joy in your heart, and you can’t wait to celebrate the birth of Christ with friends and family. Perhaps you are in a season where you just want the holidays to be over. Most of us have been in both places at some point in our lives. Keeping in mind how if feels to go through the holidays during difficult times helps us to stay sensitive to those around us as well. Read today’s article by Dr. Deb Douglas (First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA) as she helps us to prepare for our own experience as well as how to help others who are having a blue Christmas this year.
Elvis soulfully sang of a “Blue Christmas” echoing the heartache of a lonely, sad season spent yearning for something more. It’s a more familiar sentiment for many during Christmas.
What makes Christmas blue?
- Whether by choice or not, Christmas is a “together” time in most of our thinking. Being reminded of singleness at every turn can be overwhelmingly lonely.
- Being recently relocated to a new area
- Having a deployed spouse or family member
- Living away from family and friends
- Loss does not always mean death. There’s also the loss of a relationship, loss of a career, job, or financial security, loss of hope, loss of health, loss of companionship, and the loss of a dream. All make for a messy, blue Christmas.
- Physical illness
- Fear can isolate us and keep us from living life. It’s a scary world out there.
- Depression, anxiety, and other such challenges
- Unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment
- When we are choosing to live with sin ruling our lives, shame and guilt lead us into hiding causing isolation, discontent, and sorrow.
As a child, we sang, “Blue Christmas” with a few extra lines thrown in to turn it into a merrier version. Lines like, “I’ll have a blue, pink, purple polka dotted Christmas without you…” Turning a messy Blue Christmas into a joyful one is not quite so simple, but it is possible.
Ideas for making your own Christmas bright:
- Contentment comes with serving others. The opportunities for service are in every corner of every community! Get out there and serve.
- Pray for joy.
- Keep your eyes focused on Jesus rather than on shopping and how you look for Christmas parties.
- Spend time praying and pondering. Ask God to reveal unconfessed sin, unforgiveness, and areas of bitterness and resentment. Spend time asking for forgiveness and healing.
- Recognize loss and boldly mourn as needed.
- Be honest about depression. Seek professional help. Now.
- Throw out unrealistic expectations. None of us are going to wake up on Christmas morning to a perfect life or even a “normal” one. Christmas is not going to change all the decisions we’ve made, all the hurt that we’ve encountered, or bring back all we have lost. But it can remind us of the gift we have in Jesus. Jesus cares for us, He eagerly waits for us to bring our burdens, our hurts, and our heartaches to Him for healing.
Ideas for making Christmas brighter for others:
- Take time to notice when others are feeling blue.
- Invite people facing a challenging Christmas to join in celebrations, community events, church programs, and parties.
- Invite someone to meet for coffee and conversation.
- Share a gift. It doesn’t have to be something expensive, just a thoughtful gift of love.
- Invite a family facing a blue Christmas to join in with your family traditions. Making cookies? Invite the family of deployed military personnel to join. Serving the homeless? Invite a newly single person to join in. Attending Christmas Eve services? Encourage someone dealing with loss to come along.
My mother was the best at turning a blue Christmas into a merry one. She invited people without family to join in our celebrations even though we were economically challenged. She gave her own Christmas gifts away to people who would not receive any. She made Christmas cookies and candies for homebound people. She recruited others to join in and take gifts to senior citizens living in assisted living facilities. She made Christmas merry for my sisters and I by teaching us how to look beyond ourselves and see the needs of others. Our own messiness diminished as we served others. Joy was the result! Christmas caroling, an odd assortment of people, and the telling of the nativity story made for a perfectly bright Christmas!
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.