Monday, December 23, 2013

Hurting for the Holidays: It's a Quiet Thing by Christine Hiester

photo by Christine Hiester

For the 2013 holiday season, I am hosting a blog series called Hurting for the Holidays.  Twenty-six amazing guest writers are sharing their hearts, hurts, and helps to help those of us who carry an internal ache to navigate this celebratory season.  Find all posts in the series here, and participate via social media through the hashtag #HurtingfortheHolidays.

It’s a quiet thing.  When you’re not sure what you believe but you have little people who need your whole self. They light up and sing Away in a Manger, and hang homemade decorations on a twig stuck in a pot on the kitchen table while you read scriptures from Isaiah that used to light you up too but now just serve to shine into the empty in your soul.

It’s a quiet thing. When you wake up with heaviness instead of joy and even the twinkling lights on the tree and a midday reading of the Grinch don’t shove it away. The magic is still magic, but the meaning feels shaky and you’re not quite sure who to share your questions with when you’re the mom, the one who’s supposed to have all of the spiritual answers ready to be served up alongside the cookies and carrots and milk.

It’s a quiet thing. When the Fisher Price nativity on the coffee table mocks you with its chubby little Mary and its smiling manger-baby, and you can’t quite decide who to blame. The pit of shadow deep inside isn’t brightened nearly enough by the tinsel and the sparkling snow, and though you have memories of happy Christmas moments stacked up by the thousands, you don’t have the energy to dust them off.

It’s a quiet thing. When everywhere you look in the life-that-is-normally-yours the normal stabs like little knives, and you want to write a list to Santa too to tell him all you want is your faith back, dammit, so that the birth of Jesus doesn’t seem to be just another long ago story that we tell. That this year you want Wonder and Joy and Belief and even the Holy Spirit Himself to be wrapped up under the tree next to the Legos and video games.

It’s a quiet thing. When the deep faith in everything Holy and Good and Righteous used to be there, but now is simply not. When the One-that-is-Three has now become None and you don’t know what to do with these beautiful, trusting little people in your home who want to make a popsicle stick stable and use glitter pipe cleaners for the angel’s halo.

It’s a quiet thing. When all you want to know is if it’s OK to admit that breathing is the only thing you can manage this year.

But this, my friend. This is not the end of faith, of belief, of wonder. It may even be a beginning.

This can be a birth for you. Of hard-won Truth that emerges from deep places within you, where God has always had his home even when you didn’t feel it. This life of belief, is more like shifting sand than we may have imagined, but it’s also more ebb-and-flow constancy -- an ocean that is wide and open and stretched out and eternal and can contain {and redeem} the death of Christmas as easily as it can contain the mysterious birth of a Savior.

An end, a beginning -- what are the holidays for you this year? 

* * *

No definitions fit anymore. I could say I'm a wife, mom, artist, believer, homeschooler and in a very real way I am all of those things. But I am so much more. And so are you. You can find me on IG and Twitter {@fruitnseason}, and at my blog Bare Branch Blooming.


  1. I'm on day twenty tree of a December unplugged. No Facebook, personal or community page. No blogging. These twenty three days have run the gamut and today I have awakened a bit numb, feeling neither ecstasy or sadness; both of which I have experienced this month. I will keep walking though, trusting I am never left alone or forsaken. Being the unorthodox one, I will answer with: This Christmastime, or December, or end of two thousand thirteen, is both an ending and a beginning for me. I know from whence I have come and shall never fully forget. I do not know where this all will lead, but I follow the One who is wild and free and untamed and therefore unstuck, so movement will be the way of my faith and my life.

    1. * twenty three, though twenty tree made me laugh.

    2. I think the most important change for me was allowing God to be more expansive and less boxed in than I perceived Him for most of my life. He had to deconstruct everything I knew about myself, the Spirit-life, and love. Embrace the beginning. The ending, too, is priceless in its transformative power. <3

  2. I used a quote from this in my new journey journal. Each left hand page will be the "stuff" and each right hand page will be the hope to cling to.

  3. Mmmmmm woman, you offer space for my soul to breathe and worship. <3 this is a place of beginning. YES!


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King