By Vannessa Gunnell, Moroni Channel
Provo Utah, USA


Christmas, the most wonderful day of the year. The day we celebrate our Savior’s birth. The day we celebrate family and friends. The day we celebrate life. Unfortunately, although Christmas is a wonderful holiday, it is not always wonderful for everyone. Holidays, especially Christmas, can be very hard for individuals who are dealing with grief, mental illness, and other afflictions.

When I was younger and dealing with my depressive episodes, Christmas was particularly traumatic. I had an emotional breakdown in front of my family on Christmas, and I still remember it. I was moving from couch to couch in our basement, bawling and saying things that, according to my family, “didn’t make sense.” I was a wreck. Not long after, I went to residential treatment to learn to manage my depression, and get professional help with moving forward after my suicide attempts. It’s almost ten years later, and November/December are still somewhat emotionally draining for me.

Christmas is beautiful, and life is hard. If you lean on the Truth, life around Christmas can be beautiful too. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.

​I know there are too many people who are dealing with unbearably painful trials this year: the loss of a family member before the holidays, relationship conflicts, mental illness, family problems, job losses, custody battles, etc.

And although nothing I say can make your trials go away, maybe this post can help give you some guidance for how to make it easier.

1.) Remember That Heavenly Father Loves You
Now, depending on the trial(s) that you’re going through, this could be easier said than done. Especially if you’re going through something that’s life altering — and “life altering” varies from person to person. Something that’s extremely tragic and draining for one person, can be relatively easy for the next.

If you’re struggling with your faith — hold on. Keep going. Keep trying. Keep moving. Keep praying. Don’t think Heavenly Father hears your prayers? He does. I promise. He just doesn’t always answer them in the time or way that you want Him to. Faith is trusting that things will work out when you don’t think they will. 

2.) Lean on Your Support System
I say “support system” because unfortunately, not everybody feels like they can lean on their family when life is difficult. A support system can be anybody: family, church members, friends, coworkers, health professionals; whoever you trust to help you keep going and keep moving. 

3.) Be Mindful of the Holiday
Be mindful. Try to remember what Christmas is about. It’s about celebrating the birth of our Savior, our Redeemer, our Beloved. You may think that focusing on the true meaning of Christmas will make your trial harder to bear – STOP. That’s Satan trying to bring you down…don’t let him! Life is tough, but you are tougher, especially with the Savior on your side.

4.) Trust That Things Will Get Better
Heavenly Father loves you, and He has a plan for you if you trust Him. Things will get better, and you have to keep going in order to see for yourself. Giving up is not an option. Life is a beautiful gift, and the trials that come with it can bring blessings. Just be patient. It’s HARD to wait for things to get better, especially when you feel like whatever you’re going through is bringing never-ending darkness, but happiness. will. come. 

If this is your first Christmas without a family member, or if this year is tough because you’re dealing with mental/physical illness, or if you’re struggling financially this Christmas…take a deep breath. Trust. Everything will be okay. It will all work out the way it’s supposed to. Life is hard to understand. Sometimes things happen and we don’t know why, but in order to move forward, we need to trust that in the next minute or in the next hour, the weight on our hearts will feel a little lighter. 

5.) Give Yourself Permission to Be Happy
On Christmas day, give yourself permission to let go and be happy. It’s okay to hurt and it’s okay to struggle, but it’s also okay to forget your troubles for a day. It’s okay to try to push the pain away and have a good time, as long as you effectively cope with the pain later. It’s perfectly fine to say, “okay, I’m going to let myself be upset about this for 15 minutes, and then I am going to go open a present with my family.” It’s okay to give yourself permission.

​Brothers and Sisters, the holidays can be a wonderful, but painful time. To those who are struggling: you’re not alone. Whatever your trial is, please don’t give up. Please stay. Hold on for five minutes, and then an hour, and then a day. Put one foot in front of the other. Remember that God has a plan for you, you just might not know what it is yet. God has a purpose for your trial, you just don’t understand what the purpose is right now. 

Have a Merry Christmas, and remember that each moment, each hour, each day, is a time to try again.

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