Friggin Christmas.

Let me just begin by letting you know: I start playing Bublè’s Christmas album in October and watch Miracle on 34th beginning in June. I love Christmas. I love all the feels of Christmas, but Christmas is friggin tough.

For those of you who are married, single, divorced, separated, young, older, male, female, rich, poor, a mom or dad, or anything in between, Christmas can be tough. It can be devastating, actually.

I had nine days to go before Christmas four years ago when I was surprised by separation. We’d just been at a live Nativity play and my company’s Christmas party the night before. We snuggled in the winter chill, he’d plant kisses on my cheek, and we laughed in the company of close friends. Then literally four hours later and seemingly out of nowhere everything was different. I didn’t sleep. I lost twenty pounds in two weeks… during Christmas. I packed my ’95 VW Golf at five am and hid in the basement of my dear friends home in zombie-like tears. My family stared at me sideways like a confused puppy; I’d lost my words. Maybe even lost my life.

Though it doesn’t haunt me today, I remember those feelings every year. Maybe it’s a reminder from heaven to be aware of others who may be feeling the surprise of separation. Now, what I mean by this is much more than those going through separation of marriage. I’m talking to you- the one who lost a child, left a family, let go of your dreams, forgot the reason of your faith, got cut from your job, can’t seem to find a man. I’m talking to you. 

I’ve avoided as many events as possible at Christmas. Not that I don’t want to celebrate, and honestly the company is nice. I just cannot consider showing up alone. Again. And then again. Are you bringing anyone? You can plus 1 if you want! They say it smiling, and I try to at the very least smirk back.

You too, hey?

I’m with you. It’s rough. Even embarrassing. And so I guess as a reminder to myself, and a showing to you that we’re in this together, I put together a couple things I’ve done on the daily to get through the holidays… with joy.

Start Every Day Honest: Please don’t fake it. Don’t fake what isn’t true. If you’re happy, be happy. Enjoy it; eat it up. If you’re sad, angry, annoyed or confused, be those things. Send a text to a prayer warrior asking for support. BUT, try being your real self before people, and God. Maybe talking with God is a silly idea. I get that. Honestly I’ve felt the same way, but it truly is relieving to say it out loud. Take up your case with Him every day. I’ve never failed to tell Him I’m pissed… and He’s never failed to do poorly with that.

Choose Goodness: I printed a couple verses from the Bible, some quotes too, and put them beside my bed (I’ve put some at the bottom of this post for you!). Maybe you’re not a Bible reader, and that’s cool too, but find something good to put beside your pillow. Read it before bed, and read it before picking up your phone in the morning. Don’t wait to get to your bathroom mirror to start reciting mantras… that’s far too late in the game. And after you read it there in your bed, reflect on it. Find something good in your life, thank Jesus, and then go slay that day.

Snuggle Often: Seriously though, I wish I could’ve rented a puppy for the holidays. But because that’s not okay for the puppy, I had to find people. I had to find safe people. I’m not big fan of snuggling people in this sense, but I needed human touch. I needed comfort, and so do you. Often though, we make stupid choices about who we receive physical comfort from, and then feel shameful. Listen up, girls find a sister. Boys, find your brothers… get some safe snuggles in there. It’ll change the game.

Get beyond You: Because you’ve acknowledged your feelings before God, prepped your day with good words, and found the appropriate comfort during this time, you can go give to others. I’m more inclined to start by forgetting myself and helping others. Don’t do this… it’s a really bad idea. But once you’ve worked through the rest of this list, find ways to give back to your community. Maybe that’s simply inviting someone over for coffee, hosting a small get together, helping the local food bank, or showing up–plus none– to that Christmas party with some of your infamous cookies. The more you give, the more you’ll see you are not alone during this time, and, you’re not the only one feeling this way at Christmas.

Here’s what I won’t promise you- I won’t promise you that everything will turn out perfectly. In fact, I have more questions about God’s goodness than I have answers at this point. I won’t tell you Christmas will become the best time ever for you. What I will promise is the possibility of getting through the holidays with joy if you try this out.

See, at the end of all this craziness is the purpose of Christmas: God gave us Jesus, who would come down to earth just to give you life. Sometimes that’s tough to believe, trust me, I feel it even now. What I know is that He didn’t promise it would be glitter and gumdrops. He didn’t promise everything here would turn out perfectly. In fact, because we’re human, He told us to be aware of separation… But he did promise something good. He promised that with Him, you’d have joy.

And hey, if you’d like, I’m always available via email to hear you out. If you’d like to chat about more ways to make it through the holidays or through a rough season, please email! mapsandroot@gmail.com

Verses for GOODness sake:

What’s good, pure, noble, lovely, or praiseworthy in your life? I thought often about my nieces, my grandma, my friends. I said thank you to God for them all, even when I didn’t feel thankful to God…

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things arejust, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Phil. 4:8)

Where has God shown His protection over you? Think long and hard on this one. If you can’t come up with anything, say thanks anyways because He will show it to you.

You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you—under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. (Psalm 91)