Merry Christmas – Celebrating through Suffering

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Every year Jen and leave a Merry Christmas message for you all, as we take Christmas Eve and Christmas off to be with our families. Usually, we share a more generic message. This year, my heart is still broken, and so the only way I know how to share is with raw and honest emotion (and that is not always packaged as neatly). In all honesty, its been a brutal few months for my family. My precious son Malek, was killed on Oct. 2nd in an awful car accident. We then had to make it through a series of holidays (including my sons birthday), as well as my father in law being shot and killed in a welfare check gone bad. We now are at Christmas, and my heart is still crushed, but I am not without hope. Even in the midst of such brokenness, I can feel my Saviors footsteps closer than ever.

So this Christmas, I want to share about suffering. I am not new to the experience of suffering, but I have never experienced this kind of pain. It penetrates my body, in a deeper way then I could imagine pain could penetrate. There are no words to describe it, but the closest I can come is soul piercing pain. And that kind of pain does not line up with our pretty picture of a joyous Christmas season.

The thing is this. We have made this image of Christmas about Hallmark movies, and warm fuzzy feelings over hot chocolate, as families make beautiful dinners with such ease – and the tree is full of perfectly wrapped gifts for all of the loved ones that come by to celebrate Christmas with us. The problem is that is not the reality for many people. Life is messy, and Christmas does not always allow us a break from the messiness of life (sometimes it emphasizes it). This Christmas has been messy for us. I have collapsed on the floor sobbing, after many Christmas shopping trips, when I come home with presents for everyone but my handsome boy. I filled 4 stockings, and left the “M” stocking in the box. I am not sure how I picked myself up off the floor after that one. We have changed our traditions this year. It was too painful to think of trying to do it the same way without Malek. The truth is I would have loved to skip all the hooplah of Christmas this year, and just spend time worshiping the Lord, but we still have two younger kids at home who need a break from the sadness – so instead of skipping it we chose to spoil them a bit. The hole in my heart won’t stop bleeding, and Jesus my great physician is the only one who can bring peace to me throughout this. Our Christmas will be both beautiful and painful this year. Its always a beautiful thing for me to think about Jesus coming to us in the form a man, one who was well acquainted with sorrows. And at the same time, great sorrow is my cross to carry through this first Christmas without our precious boy. I imagine that will never change for me, this side of eternity.

That first Christmas was not a perfect little precious moments or Willow Tree Nativity seen either, with softly sung songs like Silent Night. Since losing my son, I have reflected much on the life of Mary (the mother of Jesus) and what it must have been like. I imagine that first Christmas, when our Saviour was born was anything but Silent. I think that she may have been cold, and like many of us women, she probably did not go silently into childbirth. Traveling on a donkey in her 9th month, was probably not her ideal way to spend those last days up until she gave birth. A manager is not likely the place this young woman dreamed of having her baby.

When the angel first appeared to Mary and said these words, I do not think they brought to mind the kind of suffering she would have to endure. She was favored by God, and yet the life she led being the mother of the Christ could not have been an easy one. It certainly was not what I would have imagined when I heard words like “favored”, “throne”, “reign”, “Kingdom” and “Son of the Most High”

“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:30-33

You see for Mary, being favored by God did not spare her from suffering in this life. I am coming to see that if we allow Him to, God will weave such a beautiful story with our lives – but it will involve suffering. I am also learning to trust God, in the deepest of sorrows.

We might not know what the future holds, but we can know who holds the future.  That is where I am at in my mourning process. Learning to trust God in the midst of my greatest sorrows. I cannot think too far ahead, as its too painful to think of too much time away from my son. I can however, think daily upon He who holds my future, and my son now. Its made me realize that we are all just passing through this world. Death is the one thing that has a 100% success rate. We will all die at some point. Faith and Hope are things we believe in, but they place our eyes on the future. Trusting God is when we can place our eyes on the past and see that He has always been faithful, even if I could not see it at the time. I serve a God is bigger then my pain, and so now I will have to learn daily to trust that He is able – and in all things.

So, this Christmas I know there will be some tears shed. Our hearts continue to ache. But, I continue to have hope for a beautiful future, because Gods Son, Jesus, died on that cross so that my son might have eternal life. Here are the things I will be working to place my heart and mind on this Christmas:

  • I will look forward to the day of being reunited with Malek in eternity, and when I look backwards, I will try to focus on sweet memories of my sweet boy.
  • I am forever changed, and I will hope that change makes me more compassionate to those suffering. I will try to remember to always pour out into others, rather then letting my grief pull me inwards.
  • My prayers have changed. Now rather then asking God to do things for me, I ask him to strengthen me for the things that I must endure – so I can walk through them in a way that gives Him glory.
  • I will choose to trust God with my precious boy, now that he no longer lives with me physically here on earth
  • This Chirstmas, I will rest in the arms of He who is the reason for this season.
  • When I cannot trace the hand of God, I trust His character – that He is good, and just, and loving, and faithful – and everything I believed He was on October 1st.

This deep pain has given me a laser focus on the things that are important to me. For me, Christmas is about the birth of Christ. I am so thankful for a God who was born on earth, and can understand so many of the struggles and trials we go through. I want to remember that daily, and learn to love with abandon – not being concerned about what I might get in return. To raise children who love their God first – before all, and then who love others with abandon too.

I pray you all have a Blessed Christmas. That you hold your families close. That you are able to forgive easily, knowing you might not have another chance tomorrow. I hope that kindness is something we can all extend to each other, and understanding in our differences. Here are Thrifty Northwest Mom we are so grateful for you all. Thank you for sticking with us through the most difficult season in our life. You are appreciated!

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  1. Just wanted to say these are Beautiful pics. I hope you and your families had a wonderful Christmas, and that you are enjoying some family time.
    Thank you for being such a blessing to so many!

  2. Heart breaking. As a mother, I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine the pain you are in. Your faith in Jesus is inspiring.
    Much love,
    Merry Christmas

  3. These words are just what I needed to read today. I am truly sorry for your loss and I cannot imagine what you are dealing with. Thank you for showing us that the holidays are not about being picture perfect but a messy holiday is okay and honest. Please know you are loved and being prayed for, Happy holidays Abby (was once Steals and Deals)

    1. Thank you Abby, and so good to hear from you. Thank you for your prayers, that is so appreciated. Hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas!

  4. I greatly appreciate your web site and your witness. I sympathize with your loss on your son!! I was stationed overseas in the military when I received communication that my younger brother in high school was dying in a hospital from a car wreck. He was not wearing his seat belt and was thrown from the vehicle. He passed away before I could return to the U. S. The Red Cross and the airlines made it possible for me to return in time for the funeral. I was angry at God for several years over the loss. Life is very interesting. My sister has a youngest son that looks extremely like my younger brother except he has brown. My sister and her husband are short but their son is 6 feet 1 inch tall (the same exact height of my younger brother). In the right light, he looks exactly like my younger brother. Asking our amazing God to fill your heart with the joy of the season and strength today. Your Friend in Christ! Ken Davis

    1. Kenneth, I am so sorry to hear about all that you have had to endure with the loss of your little brother. I understand that agony of not getting to say goodbye. I am so thankful to hear that God has sustained you, and that you are a friend in Christ. God bless you this season.

  5. Blessings to you sweet momma, this will be my 19th Christmas without my beautiful baby girl, she was 3 years old and struck and killed by a car. I still miss her so terribly, my whole life changed when I lost her. My faith and trust in our Savior has grown so much over the years. Keep pressing into our savior he is very near to us~the broken hearted. Wishing you peace that passes all understanding. Merry Christmas. With love, Christy

    1. Hi Christy, I am so sorry for your loss. It breaks my heart to think of what you have endured, but I am encouraged to hear how your faith has grown, and how God has been close to you. Thank you and I pray for continued peace for your family too.

  6. Praying the Prince of peace brings you peace that surpasses all understanding today and tomorrow. I pray He gives you streangth to enjoy the day with you little girls. And that he gives you a gift that could only come from Him to let you know that He care so deeply for you during this hard season.

    Love what you had to say and so thankful you have Our Savior to give you hope. Much love Sister in Christ! Merry Christmas!

    Love, Natalie

    1. Thank you Natalie for your prayers, and so thankful for the Prince of Peace – without whom I could not walk this path. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas this season too, and thank you for your kind words!

  7. I’m so so for your loss thru this difficult time. I send my condolences You have the Precious memories of him that you hold close to your heart. You and your Family are in my prayers for strength and healing.

  8. Thank you for your deeply felt message. We’re also mourning heavy loss through the holiday and I just want you to know that your message is well received by this family. Prayers for you and yours.

    1. Hi Daizy – I am so sorry to hear of your loss. It breaks my heart every time I hear of another family dealing with some form of deep grief, and I am so sorry to hear you are going through this. I will be praying for peace and comfort over your family this season, as we all lean on the God of all comfort to carry us through.

  9. I read these words with tears running down my face. 9 years ago I lost my brother to drunk driving (he was young and the one drinking). He was more than my brother, he was more like a son/brother. Long story short I understand in some ways your pain. I can’t say it gets easier because those that say that have never experienced such loss. All I can say is you learn to live a new life. A life full of pain, a part of your heart missing. I still go shopping and see things I know he would love and still pick it up, with tears in my eyes. I’ve lost my mom and a few other’s since he was killed, but losing him was and will always be the hardest. I wished we never have to experience the pain of losing a child. My heart breaks for you and your family this holiday season. Holiday’s, birthday’s, anniversaries are tough. Keep busy, keep the memories flowing (even if they hurt, it helps so much). HUGS!!!! The first Thanksgiving (his favorite) I made his pasta salad his way, never touched it, but it was there in honor of him. I loved it but couldn’t eat it. I needed to honor him. So do the same, with the tears and all. All those tears do help. Much love and Happy Holiday’s

    1. Hi Tracie – I am so sorry to hear about your great loss, and the pain you have had to deal with since. I can imagine that its deep. I have had to watch my girls walk through their tremendous loss, missing their brother. And being a mother I understand that pain. It sounds like you have dealt with grief from many angles, and that is so much. I will also be praying for peace and comfort for you, for the great losses you have had to carry. Merry Christmas to you, and thanks for sharing your experience (although I am very sorry you have had to live through all of this).

  10. Thank you for your transparency in your sharing. My family is also experiencing the holidays this year without a loved one who went to heaven in November, so I can understand some of your feelings. I am encouraged by your words and the hope we have in Christ of spending eternity with fellow believers who have gone on before us. Thank you and may you have a blessed Christmas!

    1. I am sorry for your loss Jana, and yes – the hope we have – so much gratitude for that! I pray you all have a Merry Christmas too.

  11. Thanks for sharing your heart! My Mom passed to heaven on Nov.14 at the age of 86. But it is hard no matter how or when. I had the same feeling, lets skip the hoopla and focus on Jesus. Blessings to you as you struggle to get through this time.

    1. I am so sorry for your loss Carolyn, and will be praying for peace for you this Christmas too. Thank you.

  12. Thank you for sharing amidst your deep and painful grief. I am so happy to know that you are believers and followers of Jesus. I am not sure how people make it through the pain that we all incur in this life without faith in Jesus. Thank you for your beautiful testimony and may God hold you in His arms and give you His peace that passes understanding. My heart and prayers go out to you.

  13. I am so sorry about your son. I can’t imagine what you are going through but I know Jesus Christ lives and am glad you are able to find hope and strength through Him.

  14. Your words are a true reminder for everyone, whether going through sorrow or just to get through day to day life – to trust in God. Thank you for sharing. Many blessings & comfort to your family.

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