I didn’t put up a single decoration that year. There was no excitement or sparkle of the holidays left in me. I was thankful Jesus came, but I was also sad. And it was a sadness that had burrowed into my bones and left me quiet and splintered.
Everyone seemed to be having babies except me. Some part of my brain knew that wasn’t true, but the feelings were a swirling force to be reckoned with. Maybe it wasn’t everyone, but it didn’t matter because if I hadn’t miscarried in October, we would have been announcing our baby come Christmas.
But I did.
So we weren’t.
Instead, that year brought something new and different to the plate. I had dealt with anger in the past. Anger at infertility, at God, at my own brokenness. But now I felt fearful.
My hope had bloomed and then shattered and now hope was the scariest thing of all.
So I didn’t put up the decorations and I didn’t talk about it and I just curled into my husband as the winter grew deeper outside my window and in my heart.
If I could go back and whisper something the girl I was then, I would tell her it was okay.
It was okay to just leave the decorations in the box in the attic. It was okay to have a quiet holiday season of mourning.
You aren’t failing as a wife or a person, I would tell her. You aren’t failing as a Christian.
You are hurting.
And it’s okay to hurt.
There would come a time when I would need to pick up my head. A time when I would need to face off with the anger and fear and lack of trust that marked my spiritual life. A time when I would need to shake off the mourning and reenter life.
But if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that all my battles don’t have to be fought in a day.
I don’t have to be okay every moment. I don’t have to wage spiritual war over my sorrow every day. There are times when depression may set up residence and I will need to look at it straight and fight. But there would also be times when I could just sit quiet and still.
There is a time for everything, the writer of Ecclesiastes tell us, and as the seasons come and go I have found he is correct.
I am still struggling through the same old battles, but circumstances have changed too, even while they are the same. I haven’t born the babies I’ve longed for, but we have walked the broken path of older child adoption and brought two eight-year-old’s home to our hearts.
Now they are nine and eleven and growing up so fast we’re scrambling to fill in the empty places in their lives. We are weathering the storms of their own hurts, and it’s a whole other kind of sorrow. One that squishes in beside the pain of infertility and settles there. Sometimes one is stronger than the other, but it’s all there melting together in my life.
And that’s what the preacher from Ecclesiastes was saying, isn’t it? Time comes and goes and things change and stay the same.
I don’t know where you are this holiday season. I don’t know what hurts you are weathering.
But I do know that you are not a failure because you hurt. you are not a failure because you hurt.Click To Tweet
If you need a quiet holiday season of mourning, that doesn’t mean you are failing as a person. There is a time for everything, even winter. So, if winter has settled in your heart, it’s okay.
There will come a day when you need to stand up and fight. A day when you may need to put up a string of twinkle lights even while you’re crying. And if that time has come for you, then by all means, do it!
But if it hasn’t? If you’re still wading through the hardness of new sorrow and the holidays are just icy blasts of agony? It’s okay to just sit tight. Seasons come and go.
Settle deep today, holding tight to God’s promise that He is unchanging.
Because in the end, that’s the glory of the holiday season. God, Emmanuel, the God-Who-Is-Right-Here-With-Us, does not change. He’s there. Right beside you. He’ll weather any storm just to be with you. And honestly? I don’t think the bite of winter bothers Him one bit.