Merry Christmas! I hope you have been enjoying the holiday spirit and have found time to spend together as a family. This is always a busy time of year, but it is also a solemn time for me. While the world is talking about family togetherness, love, and happiness, I spend the month with couples who are aching for their lives to be different.
I recently worked with a couple for a three-day marriage retreat who were months into divorce proceedings. At the end of the third day, with tears in her eyes, the wife looked at the husband and said, “If it’s okay with you, I’d like to stop the divorce. I don’t want to spend one day of my life on this earth without you.”
I smiled and said, “Now you get to go home and give your kids the best Christmas present they will ever receive–knowing that you are staying together.” And it hit me. That moment was the epitome of what Christmas is about.
Christmas is not just about hope, joy, peace, and love. It is about finding hope when all seems hopeless. It’s about believing joy is possible even when life is filled with sorrow, disappointment, and heartache. It’s seeing a pathway to peace even when the past has been anything but peaceful. It is reaching through hurt, betrayal, and grief to find the softer, tender pieces of love.
After one of my intensives this month, my husband and I took our kids to see The Piano Guys in concert. (We might be a little obsessed at our house about The Piano Guys.) If you are not familiar with their music, check them out–especially their Christmas album. It’s my favorite.
(We did not expect to meet them after the concert. It was a total surprise and honor! Obviously, or I would have at least tried to comb out the hat hair we were all dealing with after walking around Hershey, PA in frigid weather!)
Two months ago, Jon Schmidt, the pianist of the group (far left), lost his daughter Annie to a tragic hiking accident. Our family was among the tens of thousands of people worldwide who were praying for the Schmidt’s to find their daughter. After almost four weeks of searching for her body, Annie’s remains were found at the bottom of a cliff.
We were pretty sure the concert would be cancelled. After all, we understood if her father would not be up for entertaining a crowd only weeks after losing his daughter.
But the concert wasn’t cancelled. Instead, as we sat in the theater waiting for it to begin, the lights went down and a picture of Annie filled the screen above the stage. The words on the slide explained that the concert was dedicated to her. She would have wanted us to have a good time.
We did have a good time–an excellent time! They put on an incredible show. But throughout the whole thing, I couldn’t help but think of Annie and how her father continued to play through the pain of losing her.
The final song of the concert is one of my favorites! It is one I have listened to over and over again and drawn strength from each time. I think it needs to be our theme song! It is a mix of Fight Song and Amazing Grace. (You can stream it for free with Amazon Prime or watch the YouTube video below.)
Steven Sharp Nelson, the cellist, dedicated the song to all the superheroes of the world–the ones who struggle with and eventually overcome seemingly impossible life circumstances. They don’t do it with superpowers, he said, but rather by turning to a higher power for added strength.
He then expressed his deep honor and respect to share the stage with such a man. Jon then thanked the crowd for all of the prayers on his/his family’s behalf and explained they have felt added strength from them.
As tears rolled down my face, I thought about the couples I had recently worked with: the ones struggling to overcome a sexual addiction; the one trying to figure out how to navigate a demanding residency while one of their children is battling cancer; the couple devastated by infertility; the couple fighting with mental illness….
I thought about you as you face the holidays with your own overwhelming challenges. I know you wonder when life will calm down and let you catch your breath. I thought about how tired you are and how hard you work to not be resentful. I thought about your loneliness and how much you need to feel connected and loved.
And then the bagpipers came out on stage. That was when I knew. This IS my theme song. But I’m willing to share if you want to make it yours too.
You have more fight left in you. You can face whatever challenges lie in your path–even the ones that feel too big. But you cannot do it alone. This Christmas season, I encourage you to seek grace. Turn to God for added strength.
He is there.
He knows you.
You are not alone.
I promise there is hope to be found–even when it feels hopeless. You can find joy and peace–even if right now your heart is filled with sorrow and fear.
And you can find love, connection, and support–even if right now you feel lonely, resentful, and sad.
This Christmas season, I hope you will find an added measure of fight. Not the one that leaves you battling things out with your spouse, but the fight inside of you that reminds you that you can do this and pushes you to find the resources that can help!