I’m writing this to you—the person whose heart is heavy tonight, the one for whom this day is not merry and bright, the one who doesn’t feel at all like singing.
I’m writing this to you who face subtraction tonight; who feel the combined attrition of the all losses you’ve accrued this year; the people who’ve died, the ones who left voluntarily, those you’ve had to push away to protect yourself.
I’m writing to you who’ve seen the end of something you loved; the dream that dissolved despite how much you gave up to make it real; all the things that you wish to be true right now and should be true—but are not.
I’m writing to those who’ve watched their best attempts to save their marriages not be enough, who are finding themselves no longer half of the whole they once felt securely part of; those who have a different set of chairs around the table—far too many of them empty.
I’m writing to you who are grieving; those sitting vigil in hospital rooms praying for good news; those who just got test results back and have heard the worst; those who are spending this day planning a memorial service instead of a holiday celebration.
I’m writing to you whose personal demons have gotten the best of you; who’ve been visited at the very worst time by depression and addiction and self-hatred—those whose greatest threat to joy right now is an inside job.
I’m writing this to those who are alone today: geographically separated from the people they love, emotionally distanced from those they desire proximity to, pushed by circumstance to the solitary places.
I’m writing this to those who’ve been left broken by this year; by its cruelty and bitterness and violence—those of you who harbor more anger, carry more grief, and bear more fear because of what you’ve seen and what you know and how you feel about this place you call home.
Ultimately, I’m writing to you, who for a million different reasons find peace difficult to come by in a time when it’s supposed to be plentiful.
I don’t have any magic words to fix what is broken around you or to repair what is broken within you.
I can’t simply place a cursor on the sadness you feel and backspace until it’s deleted, replacing it with words like comfort or peace or contentment.
I can’t say anything in this small space that will mend what is severed, resurrect what has died, or heal what is ill.
I just wanted these words to hopefully remind you of two things:
The first, is that you are not alone; that even though you’re uniquely suffering in the specific sadness you’re inhabiting right now—you are not suffering by yourself. The world is filled with people who are not exactly, but still deeply burdened, grieving, angry, hopeless, exhausted. Even if you never see their faces or know their names, rest in the truth that millions of wounded people stand in solidarity with you in this day—and that they get it. I get it.
The second thing I wanted to remind you of, is that though this is your painful story right now, it is not the end of your story.
The way you feel today will not always be the way you feel. As difficult as it is to imagine in these painful moments—there will be holidays when lightness returns to you; days when you are cultivating new dreams again, when you once more feel secured in a place where you belong, when you again find yourself embraced by people who see and treasure the goodness in you, days when you are easily pushing back your demons.
There will be holidays when celebration is your default setting.
But right now, don’t feel any guilt for the sadness within you. Don’t beat yourself up for not wanting to sing right now. Don’t feel pressured to have the shit together that simply isn’t together and won’t be for a while.
Just receive this Christmas as it is, receive it as you are—with all the struggle and uncertainty and grieving it brings.
I’m not writing this to everyone, but if I’ve written this for you, be greatly encouraged.
You are loved. Written and posted by John Pavlovitz