For many people, Christmas is an exciting time of reuniting with family, spending quality time together, and eating too many cookies.
But for others, it’s a painful reminder of broken families, loss of loved ones, or long distances that separate you.
Physical and Emotional Distance
As someone who just moved from Michigan to California, far away from my family, I can’t exactly say I’m looking forward to the holidays in the way I usually would. And I’m not the only one—we all know someone who has lost close family members, someone who can’t afford to travel home, someone who isn’t on speaking terms with family members.
For all the talk of protecting our mental health during the holidays, the conversation seems to be lacking a crucial component—integrating our faith in Christ.
If you’re struggling with your mental health this Christmas, here are a few practical ideas to help you make the most of this time by prioritizing your faith and community! (Of course, this is no replacement for therapy or pastoral counseling.) You can still have a joyous Christmas season, even amid struggle and sadness.
Remember the True Meaning of Christmas
No, this isn’t the key catchphrase in a Hallmark movie. And I hate that I had to type it, but it’s true! If we think that Christmas is only spending time with family and getting presents, we’ll always be let down. Families are broken, and the joy of gifts quickly fades.
But if instead we focus on Christ’s birth, our redemption from sin, and the joy of salvation we have in Him, our holiday season can be filled with joy—even amid the sadness.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is He,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)
Foster Your Own Community
If you’re mourning that you will be alone this Christmas, chances are you’re not the only one around you. Reach out to your neighbors, fellow church members, and friends to see who is in the same boat as you.
Host a Christmas potluck at your house, carpool to your community’s tree-lighting festival, or go caroling at your local nursing home. The activity itself isn’t what’s important—what matters is bringing people together and rejoicing in the birth of our Savior!
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)
Additionally, reach out to your pastor or church leadership to see if your church hosts any fellowship events for Advent or Christmas. Many churches will offer a community meal on Christmas Day. And if your church doesn’t offer such an event, consider spearheading that effort, if you’re able!
This might seem somewhat obvious, but attending Advent midweek services as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services is a great way to refocus your mindset on Christ’s birth and foster community! Sit with a new friend or family each week and worship alongside them. (Many families would probably appreciate your help wrangling their little ones who are up past their bedtime during midweek services!)
Worshiping together as a community is a beautiful glimpse of heaven, so if you’re struggling this Christmas season, what better place is there to be than with the community of believers?
I wanted to close out this blog by offering up a prayer for everyone who is struggling with their mental health or is feeling isolated this Christmas.
Dear heavenly Father, place Your hand of peace and protection over every one of Your children who is struggling during this season. Remind them all of the salvation that is theirs because of the birth of Your Son, Jesus, which we celebrate this month. Thank You for giving us joy amidst the sadness. Amen.
Understand your emotions this Christmas while also seeing them as gifts from God to His Creation with Emotions and the Gospel.