When The Holidays are Hard

by: Cindy Bultema

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)

“Get out!”

Though every person in my parents’ kitchen came just for me, it only took two words to push them all away: “Get out!”

Five months before my wedding and two weeks before Christmas, we received a call while I was at my parents’ home. My fiancée David had been killed in a freak workplace accident.

Suddenly my life felt like a beautiful snow globe that was whipped upside down and then dropped—shattered into a million pieces.

My parents’ home quickly filled with friends from church, neighbors, my pastor, and grief counselors, each trying to comfort me amid raw, suffocating pain. But in my immense grief, I pushed them away.

Alone on my parents’ steps with the twinkling Christmas tree in the background, I remember thinking, God, this is not what Christmas is supposed to look like. This stinks. This is painful; I feel all alone. God, where are You?

I wonder if you’ve ever had a Christmas where things were not as they should be? Or maybe that describes this holiday season for you?

Perhaps you are

  • Exhausted and overwhelmed by your overfull schedule.
  • Stretched financially.
  • Buried in bad news.
  • Stressed and sleepless because of relationship challenges. You can’t go to another festive dinner and pretend everything is ok when it’s not.

In other words, the holidays are a mess; you’re a mess. Friend, I get it. How do we make it through the “most wonderful time of the year” when we’ve lost our jolly and we’re not wanting to “jingle all the way?”

Since skipping over the month of December isn’t an option, and even if it were, we’d only carry our old stresses and messes into a new season, what are we to do?

Let’s cling to Truth. And God’s Truth reminds us no matter the size of our holiday mess, we are not alone.

From the beginning, Christmas has been messy. If scratch and sniff Bibles were a thing, we would smell the stench when we read about the first Christmas in Luke 2. Unlike the beautiful scenes from children’s picture Bibles, Jesus’ birthplace was a dirty, stinky manger. Jesus was born in a mess.

Think about it: Jesus Christ, Immanuel, which literally means “God with us,” was chosen to be born in a mess. And now Jesus promises to be with us always, even in our mess.

One of the verses I clung to during my painful, messy Christmas was Hebrews 10:23. God’s Word says, Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

The Message Bible paraphrases it this way: Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He (God) always keeps His Word.

I kept a firm grip on God’s promise that I was not alone.

After David’s accident, everything in me wanted to keep pushing people away—to hide, isolate, stay in my jammies forever, and be all alone.

My dear mentor at the time said, “Cindy, you have a choice. You can let David’s death make you better or bitter. You choose.”

That was the day I decided I was choosing better. I drew near to God and others. Will you do the same?

Friend, whatever you do, don’t sit in your loneliness. Ask God for the courage to remember that He’s with you and then talk to someone. It’ll change everything for you.

Free Resources

Get a firm grip on God’s promises. Download five of God’s promises here.

Download God’s Promises


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Cindy Bultema is the Executive Director of GEMS Girls’ Clubs and has served in ministry for over 20 years. She is passionate about reaching girls and women with the life-changing message of Jesus. Cindy lives in West Michigan with her husband and their four children. When she’s not running her full household, you can find Cindy walking her two dogs, meeting a friend for coffee, attending her son’s hockey games, or trying to figure out what’s for dinner.