Editor’s Note: This is a guest story from Brittney Smith. If you’re feeling mixed emotions for Christmas, this is the story for you!
I remember when all I felt around the holiday was joy. That simplicity ended in early childhood after my parents announced their intentions to divorce in November 1997. Then, I quickly learned what dreary Christmases were like. They’re like snow on a cloudy day. The wonder of a miracle and the gloom of an overcast all at once.
As time went on, my family and I experienced the loss of loved ones around the holidays as well. Seasonal depression crept in myself or those around me. When I was single, Christmas was an uncomfortable time of invasive questions from family about my dating life, not to mention my own mental comparison of how my life should look. Some Christmases, I was just plain homesick for heaven.
A usually joyous time of year, over time, became a complex mixture of feelings. Sometimes involving significant extremes. I believe having mixed emotions during Christmas is more “normal” than we think. You and I aren’t the only ones with some hidden sadness or painful memory that pops up when we really, only want to celebrate and be happy. Here are a few things to remember if you’re experiencing mixed emotions this Christmas:
1. Accept your ups and downs as they come. Don’t be hard on yourself (or others) for not always being happy. A low mood doesn’t cancel out joy and joy doesn’t cancel out feeling low. Feelings vacillate. They wash over us like waves on a shore. So, take them as they come, simply as passing waves, and resist getting stuck in the riptide. The next thing to remember will help us not stay stuck in a rut.
2. I encourage you to smile in public, even if you’re weeping in private. A smile is a brave, courageous thing. It’s not always about being happy. I’m not saying be the life of the party or faking jubilation. However, showing up with a smile even when your heart is fragile can bring you strength and help you find stability before others when facing conflicting emotions.
3. You can choose! Choose the story you want to tell yourself during this time. Choose what emotions to magnify and when. There is a time for everything. Choose the story you tell yourself about the past. Ask God for a new way of looking at something old. You can choose to embrace the story of Christ’s birth as more than a reason to just be merry, but a reason to have hope no matter how you’re feeling.
Brittney Smith enjoys living a simple life. Besides writing, she teaches praise dance at a local church as a form of ministry and worship. She lives life to her own rhythm and encourages others to do the same. One of her favorite quotes is, “Little by little, one travels far”. You can find her encouraging writing on her blog: http://www.womanofgodarise.com/