Tuesday, 11 December 2018

C Columns

No Cheer Here: Facing the Hard Side of the Holidays

 

By Bethany Riehl

The season of Thanksgiving and Christmas cheer is upon us. I, like many others, love this time of year. The sights. The sounds. The family time. The movies. Hello and welcome back, Hallmark Channel cheesiness. I’ve missed you.

But I am well aware that beneath the glittering lights and mechanical dancing Santas on seemingly every corner, not all is calm and bright and merry for everyone. For many, maybe even you, this is a dark season and it might take every ounce of strength to just.get.through.

Two years ago, I posted something like this article to my Instagram account and it resonated with many. Maybe it will resonate with you.

Many years ago my husband and I miscarried our first baby in the beginning of November. I’ll never forget the dull ache of that season. It was all I could do to get up every day, let alone participate in all the cheer that was required of me.

The night before Thanksgiving I was trying to make pie crust from scratch (why? WHY? I was a newlywed, in our first year of marriage — ‘nuf said). After a fourth failed attempt, I threw the crust on the floor, stomped past my husband to our bedroom, and cried for an hour.

He had no idea what to do. Poor guy.

Fortunately, I had store-bought crust in the freezer as a backup. I eventually pulled myself together, used the stinking easy stuff, and went to bed.

The next day, when we arrived at my parents' for dinner, I was determined to not be emotional and ruin the day. Right when I walked in the door, I tripped and dropped my chocolate cream pie on the floor at my dad's feet. He took one look at my ready-to-crack demeanor and quickly scooped up the pie, took it to the kitchen, and piled it high with more whipped cream to cover the blunder.

I laughed. Hard. Probably for the first time in weeks. No one knew about that little slip and everyone enjoyed the cream-laden dessert.

That season? It was awful. So painful and dark. The pie moment didn’t erase the ache of singing carols on Christmas Eve with an empty womb. Although it's a very distant memory now, I still can't make pie crust from scratch without my heart squeezing. But that moment with my dad? Over the years that simple gesture has become one of my favorite memories.

I know many of you are hurting this season. Aching for lost loved ones, or family that you haven't seen in a long time, or loneliness, or a variety of other things. I know nothing I or anyone else can say can fix it. And no date on the calendar will magically pause the pain.

I just want you to know that I'm praying for you.

Praying you feel the nearness of a Father who loves you beyond measure. I won’t offer you platitudes or try to shame you out of your grief with well-intended but misplaced Scripture. Jesus wept when Lazarus died. He knew that everything would turn around in just a matter of minutes, his friend would soon be alive again, yet he still wept. Grief is okay. And it needs to be given room to do its thing. Grief also doesn’t play fair.

There is no other comfort I know to offer other than your Father loves you. He saves those tears; they are precious to Him because they are from your heart. He is coming to make all things new. In the meantime, I’m praying for a “chocolate cream pie moment” and the right people to surround you and get you through this season and the years to come.

Bethany Riehl loves to write stories and articles that explore the complexities of relationships and encourage readers in their relationship with Jesus. She joyfully serves in the children’s ministry at her church, teaches at a homeschool co-op, and drinks more coffee than necessary to keep up with her only-slightly-crazy life. She is the author of four Christian fiction novels and lives in Kuna with her spunky kids and very handsome hubby. 

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