Seeking Peace on Earth When the Holidays are Hard

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men

And the bells are ringing (peace on earth)
Like a choir they’re singing (peace on earth)
In my heart I hear them (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men

The holiday season is a packed-to-the-brim time of year. For many, it’s a time of year filled with meaningful traditions, joyful memories, and cozy get-togethers.  Christmas music playing in stores brings sentimental nostalgia of sweet times past, and the sound of bells ringing reminds us that all is well in the world. 

How grateful we should be if our greatest worry during the holiday season is making sure we check off enough fun activities on our to-do lists! 

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For many people, the holiday season is not so light-hearted and joyful. Instead, it is a time of stress, worry, hardship, despair, and loneliness. For others, it’s a reminder of pain, regrets, or grief. 

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

But the bells are ringing (peace on earth)
Like a choir singing (peace on earth)
Does anybody hear them? (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men

When you hear the bells ringing on Christmas Day, what do you feel? If you find yourself surrounded by love and joy this season, what a gift that is! It is so wonderful to be able to count your blessings and find them to be overflowing. Write them down. Take pictures. Tell your loved ones how much you love them. This time in your life is a precious gift to be cherished, and I hope you experience deep gratitude in the abundance.

But if this year feels heavy to you, if you’ve gone through challenges or just have a hard time feeling joyful, you aren’t alone.

This life can be so hard and so unfair. Our world is full of anger and hate, war and poverty, fear and isolation. If you are struggling right now, and feel like hope is gone, it might feel like Christmas isn’t for you. It might feel like Christmas is for other people to celebrate, the ones who are happy and successful, but for you it’s just another thing to suffer through.

But what if it isn’t? What if this holiday is actually for you?

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Despite what corny holiday movies might have us believe, Christmas is not about perfect holiday parties, extravagant gifts, over-indulgence, or family perfection. If anything, Christmas is about a silent night, a dark and cold stable, a scared mother-to-be with no place to go. No matter your beliefs or religion, the story of Christmas is meant to symbolize a gift, a hope of better days to come, a deep longing fulfilled. 

The true gift of Christmas is that this hope is for everyone, but especially for the tired, the hurting, the desperate. Sometimes the most precious gift comes after the darkest night, in the most unexpected way, to those who least expect it. 

Despite our pains or losses (and often because of them), Christmas morning offers a new chance, a new life, a new perspective. If only for a moment, there is the glimmer of possibility that all could be right with the world again. Someday, maybe. Or maybe this very day.

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Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

This holiday season, I hope that no matter what dark, lonely nights you have gone through, the sun rises tomorrow to a new day. May we all find peace in our world. 

Do you hear the bells they’re ringing? Peace on earth!
Open up your heart and hear them: Peace on earth!

Peace on earth, good will to men.


**(Lyrics from I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, by Casting Crowns. Original poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

If you are struggling right now and need someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat online with a counselor at Foundation 2 Crisis Chat. Peace to you. 

 

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