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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas Depression and a Cup of Myrrh

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. ~Psalm 42:11

My soul is downcast right now. The Psalmist has asked why. So I dug deep and tried to answer. It’s Christmas Depression I said. It happens every year. However, it has twisted its feisty tentacles around my soul twice as tight. I know why … it has finally confessed that I’ve been hurting since 2001 when my then-husband decided to leave and search for greener pastures. You’d think that after 17 years that wound had closed but betrayal is a ghost hard to vanquish.

Understand then, that I’m writing this post while my “soul is cast down,” having hit that brick wall of sadness once again.

There’s a chance that the Christmas season is a bitter cup of myrrh for most caregivers. That cup overflows with an unhealthy pint of depression. So caregiver, beware. Myrrh was a gift to baby Jesus, but it symbolizes bitterness, suffering, and affliction. If we’re not careful we might be sipping from this cup.

Take note, we are tired, some of us have our own health issues, we feel alone, maybe lonely, there’s no back-up plan, we feel stuck at times, and there’s no bright shining star to direct us. We are set up for depression.

Click here to see if you’ve got the Christmas Blues:  Included is a list of how to beat it.

I’ve got my own list. I drown my sorrows in hot chocolate or a Caramel BrulĂ©e latte from Starbucks, eat way too many sweets, and take a lot of deep breaths. And most important, I think about what Christmas is truly all about—Charlie Brown!

Keeping Christmas simple is assuredly detrimental to my emotional health. Set a realistic goal, my friends, not one that has you running around creating Santa’s Village on your front lawn. The best of neighbors, which I am blessed with, will understand. As a matter of fact, let’s not care if the decorations never make it out of storage. It’s tough enough keeping a clean house. Instead let us keep a clean and healthy soul, heart, and mind.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Let me hear JOY and GLADNESS; Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right Spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence. Restore unto me the JOY of your salvation. ~Psalm 51

I did do a little decorating, however, and settled on a cute Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It fit easily on the rooftop of my Jeep Renegade. Next time you see a Jeep Renegade on the road you’ll understand how small my tree is. One string of lights, a few ornaments and we were good to go. The smallest of accomplishments is a major pat on the back.

The best thing on my list to battle the Christmas Blues is to put on that Christmas armor.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. ~Ephesians 6:14–17 

When I think of the Christmas story I’m reminded that not only did He come as a helpless little one but he came supernaturally through an ordinary, but most favored, young woman who gave him birth, and he needed the help of a righteous carpenter to give him care … day to day.

And I remember the gifts of the Magi. Why the myrrh?

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. ~Matthew 2:11

Christmas Depression is like a bitter cup of Myrrh. Recognize it, and give it to the One who also received gold, a symbol of divinity, and frankincense, a symbol of holiness and righteousness. Myrrh was not a gift addressed to us, it's bitter, has suffering, and affliction. Surely Mary knew, but she kept it all in her heart, remaining calm, strong, and faithful.

What will you bring to the manger this year? Just you … come as you are.

A Caregiver’s Prayer

Dear Jesus, I come as I am, broken, sad, and overwhelmed. Take my weaknesses and give me your strength. Take my sadness, replace it with Joy, your joy. Emmanuel, God with us!

Beloved Caregiver

Close your eyes
Breathe me in
My breath is in your lungs
I give you life
I give you Joy
I give you Peace
For evermore
Receive …
Lift up your hands
Praise …
Release your tears
Worship …
The bitter cup of myrrh is mine
Let me take it from you
I am Emmanuel

(Copyright, 2018 by Deborah L. Alten)


  1. Deborah, this post is raw, real, and beautiful all the same. Thank you for sharing your heat. Your insight on the three gifts, especially myrrh was helpful to me.

    1. Thank you Marcie. I love raw, real, and beautiful. That's a great compliment, thank you.