When Life Feels Broken at Christmas


Photo Caption: A ginger man with a broken leg (no leg) and a surprised face. Traditional Christmas and Christmas homemade cookies. Selective focus, close-ups. Space for text.

Real life is messy and broken and still beautiful when we invite God into the middle of our mess.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Christmas can be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but the holidays can also make life’s regrets, struggles, and brokenness seem even more significant. Maybe this Christmas, you’re finding yourself in a difficult place. You look around at your life, and you’re overwhelmed with frustration and disappointment about how things turn out. You might feel like every happy Christmas song is rubbing salt into the wounds of your heart.

If any of that sounds familiar to you, I want to share a quick story that completely changed my perspective and could change yours too.
A couple of years ago, my family and I were braving the Christmas Craziness at Walmart when my kids passed a display of gingerbread houses and started begging, “Daddy, PLEASE, PLEASE, can we get a gingerbread house?”

My mind started drifting to the magical holiday memories we’d make together, sitting around the table sipping hot cocoa while making the world’s most perfect gingerbread house. It would look just as perfect as the one on the box. I gave in, pulled out the eight bucks to buy it, and we headed home to make some Christmas magic.
On the way home, the boys started fighting over the gingerbread house box in the back of the van. When we got home and opened the box, all that was left inside were broken pieces. I was so frustrated! My perfect plan was as broken as the pieces of that gingerbread house. I went to throw the whole box in the trash when my wife Ashley stopped me and asked, “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to throw this thing away! It’s broken! It’s never going to look like the picture on the box!”
She smiled and replied with patience and wisdom, “It doesn’t have to look like the picture on the box.”
She took the box from my hands, placed it on the table, pulled out all those broken pieces, and started making oddly-shaped but beautiful gingerbread cookies. We laughed and had more fun together that night than we’d had in a long time, and I almost missed it because I was going to let frustration get the best of me.
Here’s the point of the story…maybe your life feels like the broken pieces of that gingerbread house. You had a picture in your mind of how life would turn out, but life hasn’t turned out that way. Maybe your marriage is hurting. Perhaps your finances are a wreck. Maybe your kids are making poor choices. To make it even more painful, scrolling through Instagram gives the illusion that everyone else’s life is perfect and we’re the only ones who don’t have a life that looks like the perfect “picture on the box.”

Here’s the excellent news…the picture on the box is fake! Airbrushed images never represent real life. Real life is messy and broken and still beautiful when we invite God into the middle of our mess. I truly believe God can take the broken pieces of our lives and create something even more beautiful than we ever could have made.
Remember that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus coming into our broken, messy world to bring us the grace, love, and peace we could have never found on our own. He’s our Prince of Peace and wants to bring peace and healing to your heart and your family. Trust Him with your broken pieces this Christmas; you’ll be amazed at what He can create with them.

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