BITTERSWEET is a word we grow into over time. It speaks to the disappointments and heartache that are part of life, even as it refuses to let go of the vestiges of sweetness remembered. The dictionary defines bittersweet as:
- Arousing pleasure tinged with sadness or pain
- Being at once bitter and sweet; pleasant but including or marked by elements of suffering or regret
Such is the definition of a life lived out fully.
Bittersweetness acknowledges the harshness of things broken or lost,
as it retains the memory of sweeter images past.
Christmas is one of those seasons where bittersweetness abounds:
- Childhood memories of hope and excitement as the Big Day approaches as family gather together.
- The shadows of candlelight playing against the walls during Christmas Eve Services as “O Come All Ye Faithful” is sung.
- The joy of giving sacrificially out of love for the Savior.
Christmas is also is a season of reflection and remembrance of things lost or broken: relationships . . . people . . . health . . . hopes . . . and, yes, dreams never realized.
This past year was especially hard for my family and friends . . . tears still come easy as we remember those who are no longer with us. Many dread the approach of Christmas, unsure of how to get through the bitter pain of loss:
- Some may choose to ignore Christmas–with hearts bitter toward God..
- Others will go through the motions of Christmas–not wanting to disappoint others, but find themselves numb within.
- Still others will choose to lean into the Hope of the Christmas Story-realizing that it was written especially for them.
Is there a way to navigate the pain of loss at Christmas?
Through personal experience I know that the third option is by far the best. To ignore Christmas altogether, or to numb ones-self to the Celebration, too often leads to an ever-spiraling, dark despair that tends to rub-off on those closest to us.
The wisest choice is that of entering into the Light of Christ’s coming,
while embracing the Hope of His return.
After ministering to people struggling with brokenness and loss of every sort and in every season, it is always those who entrust their brokenness to the One who saves, who realize the blessing of a deepened faith that moves them forward:
“The people living in darkness
have seen a great Light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a Light has dawned.”
This past week my burden was lightened by the sweetness of a video put out by Southland Christian Church in Kentucky. I offer it to you as we navigate this Season of Celebration, in the hope that leaning into this retelling of the Christmas Story will sweeten your perspective as it has mine:
All to His Glory!