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Escaping from the dark side of Christmas

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12 Views of Christmas: Guest column by Dr. Ray Hicks

he Christmas holidays for most people are filled with the joy and excitement of presents, Christmas trees, meals, family and friends.

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But for some, the holidays can be a sad and depressing time filled with broken relationships, loneliness and pain. Hearing other people talk about the joy of the season does not go over well with those facing shattered dreams which have overshadowed life and stolen joy.

The brokenness of divorce, abuse, anxiety, grief, marital infidelity or addictions can hit people like a train. Memories of being abused, hurtful words and the lonely darkness of depression can debilitate with tsunami-like destruction.

As discouragement increases, it is easy to react and blame others for the pain, joylessness and emptiness of life. This is when the dense fog of hopelessness sets in. It becomes increasingly more difficult to recognize encouragement, to be comforted, to experience hope, to feel love or to find anything good in this season.

When this happens, what can we do? Where can we turn? Who can help us find the hope and joy of the Christmas season again?

The fact is no one can get out of this darkness alone. God made people for community. And it is in community where people find the ability to work on the struggles of life and find help, healing and hope.

The first step out of this holiday dark place is to recognize help is needed to deal with past hurts, hang-ups and habits. Issues and problems in life should not be allowed to become the definition of who someone is. I have seen many people move away from holiday despair and the circumstances of their lives by allowing the Gospel of Jesus to transform them. This kind of life change and freedom from the struggles, brokenness and pain happens on a regular basis every Monday night at 6 in Celebrate Recovery at Severns Valley Baptist Church.

Attending CR is the first courageous step anyone can take to begin the walk out of the dark cloud of the past and into a new beginning. This journey is a Christ-centered, biblically based approach to dealing with any and all the struggles of life. At CR there are people who have struggled or are struggling with life, too.

These people have found their hope-filled identity in Christ and receive encouragement from one-another on this journey. Attendees begin to find healing from their pasts as they forgive others, ask for forgiveness and forgive themselves. Depression begins to be lifted and real hope starts to break through like a new sunrise.

This journey of change and recovery is not an easy journey, but it is well worth the personal effort it takes to find desperately desired help, healing and hope. The heaviness of life will begin to lift and look much different as attendees grow in Christ and find new ways to relate to those in their lives.

If the holiday difficulties described above are like looking into the mirror, I hope you will find yourself driving to Severns Valley Baptist Church on Monday evenings for Celebrate Recovery. At CR there is help, hope and healing for the hurts, hang-ups and habits people have experienced. Those who attend will meet others who have dealt with every struggle imaginable, even the hurts and issues they are facing. All of us at Celebrate Recovery will walk with one another on the road to recovery.

Confidentiality and anonymity are very important in our meetings and we are not at CR to fix one another.

Fixing is the work of Christ in our individual lives in community. He is the one who helps us find healing in relationships, freedom from a broken past and hope for a renewed future through encouragement, friendship, faith and his word. I challenge all who read these words to take this first step of coming to Celebrate Recovery.

It will begin a journey of walking away from the sadness holidays may bring. And it will enable you to grab hold of the hope, joy and expectation which only Christ can bring to your life.

Dr. Ray Hicks is associate pastor for MemberCare at Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown.