I can’t stop thinking about what happened to me on Christmas Eve. I’ve been praying about whether or not to share it, but I feel that if I don’t it would be like trying to hide my light under a bushel. So this is a prayerfully thought out version of the Gift I received straight from the Manger on Christmas Eve.

I have been struggling a lot this year with the Winter Blues that is caused by the lack of sunlight.  I haven’t been officially diagnosed, I just know I am not myself. And my poor husband knows it too. It’s been so dreary this season already and it’s just barely Winter. I feel like I’ve been trapped in darkness. I’ve been crying for no reason. Crying for made up reasons. And crying for reasons that happened years ago. I feel like I’m just going through the motions to survive until Spring.

Trying to get into the Christmas spirit when you feel like that is next to impossible. And I felt guilty for feeling awful which then makes me feel even worse. Sigh! I had no reason to feel so bad. I have a comfortable home, a job that I love, and a sweet husband and well-behaved children. I have my health, good friends, and family close by. There was no reason, other than the lack of light, for me to feel so blue all the time.  So, I installed full-spectrum lighting in the main rooms of my house just to try and feel better.

I had spent Christmas Eve morning crying over the fact that I haven’t had Christmas with my brothers in about 17 years. I cried because the pie crust broke. I cried because I missed a song I wanted to hear on Pandora and I lost the CD. I cried because I needed two boxes of Jell-O for a recipe and I had only one. Then I cried because the Jell-O didn’t set. I cried because I was crying for crying out loud! No wonder my sweet husband was more than willing to run to the store for more Jell-O!

I ached. Way down in my soul, I ached. There are no words to describe the way it felt. I equate it somewhat to oppression because nothing I was doing on my own was relieving the burning weight on my heart. And it felt like I was looking at my life through a murky glass filled with my own messed-up history. Pretty much, I was trying to make myself feel better on my own.

That is always a dumb idea.

I attended Christmas Eve service with my family at the church I was married in 15 years ago. It’s a beautiful church anyway, but at Christmas with all the poinsettias and candles! Oh! Just Gorgeous! And such a sweet little place close to home.

I  was waiting for the service to begin and listening to a girl sing a lovely song.  I honestly couldn’t hear her very well so I was only partially paying attention. I was thinking of all the things that needed to be done once I got home in order for Christmas morning to happen.

She continued to sing, “What shall I give Him? I’ll give Him my heart.”

Did anyone else feel that? I looked around because didn’t anyone else actually feel someone touch their heart? Mine had literally fluttered.

I took a deep breath and I watched the acolyte continue to light the candles.

“I am the only light you need.”

Shh! Did anyone else hear that? I sat still in the pew.

“I came into this dark world over 2ooo years ago as a light to provide Hope and Joy. Sweet child, you have been searching for the wrong kind of light.”

When I realized He was speaking to me, in an instant my oppression turned to joy! The burning weight in my heart was lifted. I felt like the murky water I was doing life in had been replaced with fresh abundant living water that springs eternal.

I felt full of light.

I realize this is a rare and precious gift. And I am struggling with coming up with words to describe it.  The best I can come up with are:

Emmanuel, Light of the World, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor

The sun continues to hide behind the clouds. And the journey along this Winter path is still pretty long.  But my unmanageable sadness has been plucked from me and replaced with eternal light. The light I should have been seeking all along.


John 12:46
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

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Bethany Donham

Bethany E. Donham is married to her high school sweetheart and the mother of two beautiful teenage girls. She is a full time Minister to Preschoolers and Families, but has a passion for guiding others to see the world with a Biblical perspective through her writing.

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  1. That is awesome Bethany! It’s really cool that the words you use to describe Him are the ones pastor Mark had us memorize for Christmas eve at the Joe! You are such a bright spot everywhere you go, I cannot imagine you feeling blue. I pray that He will sustain you through this season. Love you!

    1. Thanks, Lei. I really appreciate the kind words and the prayers.

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