Wednesday, December 3, 2014

There's Room For It All This Christmas

Hey Friend,

I sat at the kitchen table with pen in hand.  I moved the pen several times into the poised position above the ivory card stock beneath.  I waited impatiently for some words...any words to come to me. 

What exactly do you write to your friend, neighbor and dog walking buddy who two days before Thanksgiving waited for her husband to return from his usual morning run only to get the horrendous news that another runner had found his slumped body beside the road where he had collapsed and died? 

What do you write to this mother of three young men who was madly in love with her high school sweetheart?  A woman who just days before was happily preparing for the holidays and now was going to bury the man she so deeply loved?

The answer is...there are no words...

I have really struggled these past two weeks, because this is not what Christmas is supposed to look like.  At least not what the world or commercials say that it should look like. Christmas is not supposed to be painful. 

Sure Christmas can be brimming with Christmas cheer and joy.  My husband and I will be celebrating out first Christmas together and we are trying to savor every moment of this season.  We want to celebrate how God has blessed us with each other and a love neither of us ever thought would happen.  Surely this is Christmas?

Christmas (at least in my home) is often chaos and clutter and me trying to find presents that I have tucked away in such a special place that now I can't find them.  Christmas is wrapping bright packages with paper and bows and imagining the delight upon the faces of the people who will open them.

But, Christmas is also moving furniture around to accommodate the tree only to realize that my dad, who always occupied the same chair Christmas morning, will not be in "his" chair this Christmas.

It is remembering what it was like to muster up the energy to make Christmas special for my children when only weeks before their father had walked out and left us.  Is this Christmas I wonder to myself??

Christmas time for many of us can be bittersweet or even downright painful.

Why then do we think that there is something more spiritual in being stoic through pain?  

Christ came for the broken, the hurting, the lost...He didn't come for a world that "held it all together".  Maybe we need to allow ourselves to be real in His presence this Christmas...whatever that may look like. 

God holds all things together.  (Colossians 1:17)

"It's okay to be broken.  Holding it all together is in someone else's job description."  (Holley Gerth)

Many of us have become experts at ignoring our hurt...especially at the holidays.  Ignoring our hurt, however, only serves to drive it deeper. 

So back to my statement that "Christmas is not supposed to be painful."

Maybe, just maybe, that's not true.  Jesus came, took on human flesh, to save us from ourselves and to make a way that no one else was capable of making.  His birth, being human, was painful...and his death certainly was painful.  Why then do we think that on this side of Heaven that we will be exempt from pain and suffering? 

Maybe the pain we feel is the homesick longings we experience for when we are home at last with our Heavenly Father and all the saints who have gone before.  Maybe Christmas is meant to have a touch of pain to remind us that this is not our home?? That we were meant for something greater??

Perhaps I have raised more questions than I have answered.  Our questions keep us seeking after God.  He, ultimately, is the One who holds it all together and I believe that there is just quite possibly room for it all this Christmas.

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.  Because he inclined his ear to hear me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.  (Psalm 116:1-2)

No matter what you may be experiencing this Christmas, may you know that the God of the Universe inclines His ear to hear your pleas.  Know that He loves you enough that He sent his one and only Son just for you and He longs for you to call upon Him as long as you live.  May you be blessed...

In His love,


ps. Redeemer Christian School Update: Plans are being made and presents purchased for the RCS Christmas Program.  It's still not too late to bring Christmas for the very first time to these, God's children in Pakistan.  Help them to meet and fall in love with Jesus this Christmas...Hurry with donations to:  Bev Rihtarchik/RCS
                                                              103 Silver Lining Lane
                                                              Cary, NC  27513
Thank you and may God bless you!!


  1. Hi Bev,

    Yes, thank you for speaking the truth in love to us. Christmas is often painful, and just plain hard. I have had many Christmas' that have been hard. Growing up, Christmas was painful because of my parents arguing, and when I look back on the family stories, Christmas was painful for my dad because his dad came home drunk every Christmas.

    Christmas has been hard with family......The family dynamics are hard because of misunderstandings, no presence of family because of grudges and bitterness, and the glaring hole is difficult to speak of the loss and then watching other family members grieving for the loss...I'm speaking of more than just my immediate family.

    I do have to remember the "But God......" He is in the details and weeping too, He is with those we care for and not present, and He is always present with them, caring for them, and He is always a good parent. He still brings hope when we are ready for hope. He still because He knows our frame, our weaknesses, our pain, has compassion on us, and loves us. He still speaks to us giving us the words we need to survive, then thrive in spite of our lives.

    There are no good words for death, pain of divorce, prodigals, distancing because of bitterness, etc. Often the best loving we can do for those hurting is to just be there and listen with our hearts, and cry with them, hold their hand, and let them know we are present to meet practical needs such as meals, driving, checking up on them to ask what we can do instead of them making the phone call. Being safe.

    Often those hurting don't want to be a bother, and people are uncomfortable with grief. Grieving is messy, but shows our own humanity, and frailty, and needs. Checking shows they are still known, remembered, and loved.

    This is such a good post. Thank you for telling the truth.

    Love and (hugs),


    1. Joanne,
      What you said about grieving being "messy" is right on. It IS messy and people shy away from it, but it does show our humanity and the frailty of life. I agree with you...don't wait for the grieving to ask, just pick a course of action (hugs, meals, driving, etc.) and do it. Now, more than ever they need to know that they are loved and that God loves them and hasn't forgotten about them. Thank you as always for sharing from your heart!!
      Love you friend,
      Bev xx

  2. Oh Bev, I am so sorry to hear about your friend's husband. I have a couple of friends who experienced a heartbreaking loss such as what you describe, and I think the best thing you can do is simply be there. Even when it's uncomfortable. Words won't really do much at this point. Just sit with her and give her a hug if she needs it. Praying for you too as you comfort her. Much love to you, friend.

    1. Thank you Abby,
      You are so right in that the best thing we can do is simply be there. Be the shoulder to cry on, the arms to hug, the ears to listen. Jesus wept with those who grieved and I believe He calls us to do the same thing. Thanks for your wisdom...

  3. I am so sorry for your friends loss, Bev. You are right, there are no words. We just show up and be present for them. I love what you shared here. Reflecting. While I am so happy to have my husband home it will still be a difficult Christmas not having our son home. So i know there will be tears. But I know He holds all my tears and that He keeps watch over us all, near and far. Love you. (((Hugs)))

    1. Beth,
      Thanks for your kind thoughts. I'm sure you have many mixed over your husband being home for Christmas, but bittersweet not having your son there as well. Our God is the one who sees and He knows and wipes away every one of our tears. I know He will be watching over your son! Wishing you joy...
      Love and ((hugs)),


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