celebrating Him WITH Him

When the Holidays Hurt

when the holidays hurtI was talking with a friend recently, who asked me the “elephant in the room” question that burns in your mind when you go through hard times. She asked, “Will it always hurt this badly?” 

We were talking about infertility and she was delicately sharing her heart. It had been a while since I had considered where I was on the pain scale, which, in and of itself, was telling. I didn’t know God’s timeline of grief for her, but I could assure her that new norms would form and acceptance would come. God’s character would become more real to her and hope would begin to float, regardless of what the pregnancy test said.

She asked if adopting the kids made the pain go away and I told her, “yes and no”. I mean, the pain pops up out of nowhere, kind of like a jack-in-the-box, it seems. And while adoption hasn’t made it all better, God has definitely used it to bandage the wounds and temper our aches.

We talked more about how infertility can make the Holidays hurt and it made me want to rally the women I know who are walking this journey, rent a swanky Bed & Breakfast and have a giant slumber party complete with massages and mounds of chocolate. It made me want to gather women and talk into the wee hours of the morning about our disappointments and the goodness of God in the land of the living. Buuut, since we are all facing the Holidays in our perspective locations, (and since I’m still waiting on Joel to finance the whole b&b/massage idea…therefore the best I can offer is to host another Virtual Book Club…) I wanted to say, that if your arms, or your heart, or your bed, or your church pew, or your _____ are empty during this, *the most wonderful time of year*, you are not alone.

You are not alone and there is something that could maybe even be cherished in the pain…perhaps.

When the holidays hurt, (read: when your nosy great-aunt wants to know when the two of you plan to make babies…) we can pause, feel the pain we want to rush past and ask for God’s presence to be near. Because isn’t God coming near what this whole Season is about anyway? 

I’ve been thinking about Mary lately. She had impending loss hanging over her head the entire 33 years she spent raising Jesus. She knew that this child of hers would save His people, but that He would break her heart in the process. And God came near to her in her pain.

Sarah…Hannah…Anna…Elizabeth…they desperately ached for children too and God came near to each of them.

And Jesus? He knew the ache and loneliness of being without a wife and children as he ministered day after day. He drew near to the Father and God (who constantly knows what it feels like to have spiritual children who are not yet His own!!) came near to Him.

But then, when the fullness of time came, out of love for us and retribution for the sin in our hearts and the brokenness of our world, God, the Father, no longer drew near to Jesus. Instead of drawing near, God turned His holy back on Jesus. The Beloved Son who’d known nothing but perfect unity since eternity past, felt, for the first time, what it was like to be utterly rejected. Abandoned. Empty. Dare I say, barren.

And both the Father and the Son willingly signed up for the sheer torture of this, for me.

Jesus volunteered to experience and embody the depth of immortal pain so that I could find comfort, healing and hope in Him. And He completed His mission.

***Jesus has actually put an eternal end to pain.***

How then can I not find comfort this Holiday season in a great High Priest who sympathizes with my weaknesses and who sacrifices Himself to assure that, “it won’t always hurt this badly?” . 

How then can I not celebrate this Holiday season amidst suffering when I know I am partaking in His sufferings and His Word promises me that,  “it won’t always hurt this badly?” 

How then can I not rally the hurting around me and give them hope that in Jesus, “It won’t always hurt this badly?” 

Because not only do empty arms make you more sensitive. 

Empty arms make you safe.

But empty arms make you long for the Savior.

And empty arms give you a pulpit from which to tenderly preach that, “it won’t always hurt this badly.” 

/////

Ya’ll, let’s kiss the wave the crashes us into the Rock of Ages, together, shall we? If you’re looking for more comfort when the holidays hurt, here are a few more essays I’ve written on the topic:

And, if you’d like to join a few friends and I as we read “Infertility: Finding God’s Peace Amidst The Journey” and “Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet” this Holiday season, I’d love to invite you to buy the books, read them and attend our virtual book club in February. Please email me at kitty(dot)hurdle(at)cru(dot)org so I can add you to our private Facebook community, in the meantime.

Happiest of Holidays as we celebrate God, with us–in our joys and in our sorrows!

3 thoughts on “When the Holidays Hurt”

  1. Kitty, I so appreciate your heart for helping those who are going through the pains of infertility even as you experience them yourself. I think back to those four years when we struggled and all of those women you mention here were the ones I flipped bible pages to read over and over again while waiting. If only something like your book club had been available to me then! I hope the hurting ones will take advantage of your offer and join in. Keep pressing on. Your ministry is amazing!

  2. “if your arms, or your heart, or your bed, or your church pew, or your _____ are empty during this, *the most wonderful time of year*, you are not alone.”

    Yes.

  3. I just “stumbled” across this page, and while I say “stumbled,” I know nothing with God is ever just a stumble. After 43 years of marriage, and the empty arms of infertility, I can honestly say that while God never allowed me to have children, the greater plan for my life was HIS plan. He has blessed me with so many daughters in the faith, that I can’t even begin to imagine what my life would look like without them. I know the impact they have had on my life and the impact I’ve been blessed to have on their life is eternal, and for that I am grateful.

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