When You Can't Feel the Right Emotions on the Right Holidays (And How That's Okay)

Written by Kacie Drake ChattHOP Staff

I’m not here to talk about the Easter Bunny, or the pastel color explosion that hit stores near you, or even the miraculous bite of a Cadbury mini egg. But I do have some things to say concerning celebration, and how holidays just don’t quite get it right.

I mean, let’s be honest, the holidays hold a monopoly over celebration. Besides birthdays, you are told when to celebrate, and how to celebrate. And if you’re a Christian, you have Christian traditions and cultural traditions. As in, if it’s Christmas, you better be taking your children to sit on Santa’s lap and decorate cookies and pick out ornaments and listen to endless ballads about reindeer and snowmen. And while you’re at it, you need to adorn the house with nativity scenes and muster up as much holy celebration as possible: because this season is about the BIRTH. OF. GOD.

And besides social pressures from practically everything in the universe, what happens when you don’t feel like celebration? Or what happens when you don’t feel like being Mother-Mary-tranquil while singing Silent Night? What happens when the holiday season just happens to fall on the anniversary of a loved one’s death? Or a divorce? Or the middle of financial collapse?

What then? How do you celebrate the great victory and joy of Jesus when you are experiencing your greatest loss?

Or, if you’re like me, you don’t like being told how to feel and when, and if you tell me I need to be upbeat and happy on Resurrection Sunday because Jesus, then maybe I’ll break down and cry, because Jesus.

I love the Tenebrae Service that happens on Maundy Thursday, the way the Scripture is read – slow and somber – sandwiched with silence as each candle is snuffed out, one by one. I love that Tenebrae literally means “shadow” or “darkness” in Latin and that everyone leaves in silence. But often, Maundy Thursday comes around and I am so filled with joy, excited about life itself, and how in the world do you expect me to enter that dark shadow of betrayal, that place where Jesus breaks the bread and everything begins to crumble?

What happens when you’re still grieving on the day of Resurrection? And what if breakthrough and victory come on the night of betrayal?

“There is no other day. All days are present now… This moment contains all moments.”*

And I think, in our deep places, we have to know that this moment contains all moments.

And if this moment, today, contains all moments, then today is open for you to celebrate, or grieve, or hunt for Easter eggs, or touch the scars in His hands, or taste the flat bread and bitter wine.

And if Jesus’ resurrection, the greatest day in history, is a moment that contains all moments, then right now, in this moment, death is defeated, and you share in the victory. Right now, in this moment, because of the Kindest Man that ever walked the earth, you have the promise of a place and day where every tear will be wiped away. Right now, in this moment, if you have turned your back on the Man who calls you friend, he still chooses the cross for you. Right now, in this moment, he walks out of the grave – your grave – fully alive. Right now, in this moment, he is still alive, and he hears you, and he sees you, and he knows you.

Even right now, in this moment that contains all moments, three words hang in the air, holy and final:

It. Is. Finished. 

I don’t know how you will feel this holiday weekend. I don’t know what you are experiencing today, or tomorrow, or twenty years from now. But whichever day it is, the Man on the Cross, Jesus Christ, still chooses the cross for you. Whatever you are going through, Jesus Christ – God Who is With You – sees your tears and your bravery, hears your yelling and your silence, and he is still with you. He did not abandon you when he went to the grave, and he isn’t abandoning you now.

And in whatever situation or holiday you find yourself, in that moment that contains all moments, Jesus is with you. And that is reason to celebrate.

*Disclaimer: These are some of my favorite lines from C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce, Chapter 11. I am aware this quote can be taken in a plethora of different directions and that the context in which I am using it is not directly relatable to its context in The Great Divorce. But I hope you found it helpful in this context regardless. (Also, if you haven’t read this book, you should.)