It was just days before Christmas. A drunk driver suddenly veered into our lane and totaled our car - with our whole family inside. Thank God, we were all okay. Our car? Junkyard.
Then there was the Christmas my sons and I decided to try out the NFL football one had just gotten as a gift. Great fun - until Mr. Klutz here caught one on the end of his finger. My finger? Broken. The emergency room folks gave me a Christmas gift. A splint.
It stinks to have something broken at Christmas. A car. A finger.
Or a heart.
I know that more this Christmas than ever before. Because this is the first Christmas season of my adult life without the woman I cherished. The queen of our Christmases is truly "Home for Christmas." With the Jesus she loved and lived for.
But we're here, doing Christmas with that strange mix of great hope in our Savior and a big hole in our heart.
We're not alone. I just got a text from an old family friend who said her heart is "beyond broken" because of her dad's Stage 4 cancer diagnosis. And I've been praying for at least four other good friends who are also doing their first Christmas without their lifetime love.
Brokenness hurts even more at Christmas. Not only broken hearts, but broken relationships. Broken dreams.
But it's in the very reason for this season that all of us broken people can find the hope of healing. That Baby in the manger. Who later announced, "The Lord has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted" (Isaiah 61:1). He really can fix what no friend or counselor or medication can touch. I know.
That May day when my heart was shattered, I desperately reached for an anchor. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble" (Psalm 46:1). He has been very present, every day without my baby. "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted" (Psalm 34:18). He has been close in ways I've never felt before.
When you can't walk any more, He carries you. When you're spiraling downward, He lifts you "out of the pit of despair" and sets your "feet on solid ground" (Psalm 40:2).
The difference between "the pit" and the "solid ground" this Christmas may be two little words. Reach out.
Reach out to someone we trust. To pour out the deep feelings we may have stuffed. The alternative is a descent into a darker place. "Two are better than one" (Ecclesiastes 4:7).
It's a time, too, to reach out to bring some peace to that broken relationship. Drawing deeply on the grace God has extended to us. To say - or write - healing words like "I'm sorry," or "I forgive you," or "I miss you."
We can find healing, too, in reaching out to someone else who's hurting As Jesus said, we find our life by giving it away (Luke 9:24). We can dwell on our wounds or help treat someone else's. My broken heart credentials me to help someone else whose heart is broken.
Christmas is above all a time for us broken people to reach for the One who was broken for us. "Pierced for our rebellion," the Bible says. "Crushed for our sins. Beaten so we could be whole" (Isaiah 53:5). The Manger Road led to a sinner's cross. Where He removed the wall between us and the God we're made for.
So we would never have to be alone again. Because we can bring our brokenness to the place where healing begins. His cross.
If we listen to His whisper to our broken hearts this Christmas, we will hear a simple invitation.
"Come to Me. Let the healing begin."