too-much-christmas
by Jenn Buell
Guest Contributor

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
Luke 2:14 NRSV

Gift lists. Christmas concerts. School activities. Add in a hurried college-visit road trip three states away and I was done before December 1st even arrived.

My anxiety levels have climbed ever higher as the Christmas season has approached.
Peace on earth? Really? I’m not feeling it. And usually it is one of the most wonderful times of the year.

The other day I figured out what is making this year so hard.

It’s my fourth Christmas as a widowed mom.
It’s the fourth year where all the magic and wonder and everything is my job to orchestrate.
It’s the fourth year of figuring out what to spend on who and how to decide what goes where.
It’s the fourth year that I am desperate not to let my children be robbed of their childhood because of their father’s death.

I’m exhausted.

This journey is a marathon. And Christmas magnifies loss. Anyone who has lost someone knows that the most wonderful time of the year magnifies their absence with deafening silence.

So here I find myself trying to determine which Christmas lights go in the trash can and which go where, when that used to be his job.

So here I am trying to determine a budget that will still make Christmas special for my kids and send something to extended family when he used to be the softy who fudged the numbers.

So here I find myself facing so much that used to be shared work.

Peace is what I’m missing as I look at this list.

And as I sat down to work on this blog on peace, the first verse on peace to come to mind was this one — offered to shepherds out in the fields just doing their work in the inky black of night. Angels burst onto the scene singing glory to God and offering peace.

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
Luke 2:14 NRSV

Peace.

Such a complex thing, peace. And so freely offered by God and overwhelmingly desired by all.

peace-freely-offered

Huh. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong.

Perhaps I need to –
Lay that list of to-dos before God and ask for some wisdom.
Let go of how it used to be and embrace what’s realistic now.
Admit that this is tougher than I imagined and take a moment to really feel that, so I can move past it.

If you are facing a holiday season under a cloud of loss, I’m so sorry. Truly. I get it. Taking a minute to admit to yourself that this is not what you planned or wanted is more than OK–it’s healthy. Taking a minute to miss the person you lost might help you get unstuck.

The need to celebrate this wonderful season can sometimes set us up for unrealistic expectations. Perhaps this year, we need to keep our eyes focused on the reason we celebrate and the peace that was offered on a night so long ago.

Dear Jesus, I confess I’ve become burdened in a season that is supposed to be joyful. I ask you to grant me wisdom in choosing what I do or don’t do. I ask you to bring joy as I think about someone I’ve lost and to bring a pause when I try to take on more than I need to tackle. Help peace be a hallmark of my home and my life this Christmas season. Amen


jenn-buell
Jenn Buell is a widowed mom to four amazing kids, a blogger, speaker, and Christian radio DJ in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. Jenn loves to travel and hopes once her minions are all grown up she’ll get to do more of it. She writes encouragement in the ordinary of life at jennbuell.com. You can connect with her on her blog or on Facebook at Jenn Buell.

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8 Comments

Kristine Brown

Jenn, this is such a beautiful look at how a verse we often overlook applies so perfectly to our lives today. You are right – the holidays magnify the loss. Such a touching and uplifting post. Thank you for sharing!

Reply
Jodie

Jenn, You offer such beautiful insight in a situation that can only be described as difficult beyond my imagination. I’m not a widow, but I do have an absent military husband and can relate to all the choices falling heavy on my shoulders. You perspective has given me rest this morning as I grasp for the very thing so many are grasping for…peace. Thank you and I will be praying for you and your children this Christmas season.

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Jenn Buell

Hang tough, you amazing military wife! I have always respected my military-mom friends. Now I get it more. You can do this! Let go of perfect and find peace this season as you hold down the home front so your husband can serve.

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Liane Conaway

Thank you for sharing the realness of your situation. Amazing how God has met you where you are at and filled you with peace as you cling to Him. Thank you for your example!

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Julie K. McComas

I cannot imagine what you must go through not only during the holidays but every single day. Thank you for this! Many people can relate, and many people will be touched by your words. What an amazing light you are shining for God! Bless you!

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rose noland

Jenn, I can truly relate! I lost my soul mate to cancer 6 years ago. This will be Christmas #7 without him. But somehow, our Savior has been there in the pain and the loss. He’s not only been enough–He’s been way MORE than enough! Joy can actually exist simultaneously with sorrow and pain. What an amazing God we have!
Let us both (and anyone who has suffered such a great loss) keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and receive His peace-even if it’s in the midst of tears.

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