By Teresa, Founder
I’ve made my peace with the agony-half of Christmas. Grief, abandonment, betrayal, fright and pain: they are mixed with happier memories and blessings in my life. Christmas is born into all of this, into my whole life, not just the merry me. Maybe having survived enough darkness at Christmas was the only way to make this peace.
The darkness of Christmas can be any trauma that is disheartening or grief-stricken—abuse, of course, but also illness, death and loss, a sense of expanding emptiness, the vast night sky over a lonely road, our remembered journey without shelter, our betrayals, devastating failures and the bleak vulnerability of our existential poverty. It is all the darkness that makes life so difficult, as some pray a “valley of tears.” It is precisely into this worst of darkness, however, Christmas dawns.
In that sense, recovering survivors are strangely skilled to experience Christmas. Our recovery is, in part, practicing “just sitting with” what is not comfortable. Our well-being relies on our ability to integrate darkness into the light of day. Unlike all the many other unjustly wounded people in the world, we share a wound that cuts the sapling self, making us more familiar with how Christmas is a cruel touch for some (and a flood for others) of the dark night of the soul that lasts, and burns away the chaff, until we finally give our lives over to the freedom that comes from being empty enough to receive our most unlikely and unpredictable God—both after and before His Light pierces the darkness.