During the Holiday season, I always find myself reminiscing. There’s something about the snow on the ground, the colorful lights, and the smells all around that take me back.

Do you remember when you were a kid and you would get so excited for every little tradition? I remember longing for my whole family to be together and even being anxious if we were missing someone.

But going home can also be difficult for many reasons. Here’s a bit of advice and some comforting words to those of you who are tentative about spending the holidays at home.

To those who have lost:

If this is your first holiday without a loved one, this season feels like another reason to mourn.

Friend, I am so sorry for your loss.

My prayer for you, is that you would allow yourself to experience the joy that this season brings; I am sure that this is what they would have wanted. Take the time to remember how they laughed during this season, and gave joyfully. Remember all the little things that made them so happy around this season, and enjoy this time in memory and honor of them. And never, ever, forget that joy is strength.

“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Joy is strength.

You are not being dishonoring by enjoying this time with those you love, you are honoring both them and God. Be strong in God and He will grant you joy.

To those who are returning home to conflict:

I recently spoke to a dear friend who told me about her variety of emotions when going home. I asked her what she would say to those whose homes represent a mixture of apprehension and excitement, and this is what she said:

“Find freedom in letting go of control.”

This makes sense to me. Guys, no matter where your family is at, you are not responsible for people’s reactions or feelings. It is not your job to make everyone happy, and most importantly, you are not defined by any circumstance.

Let go, be yourself, don’t try to control, and remember to enjoy this wonderful time of the year.

Talk to God. Ask Him what He thinks you need to do next. A conversation? A new attitude? What do you need to let go of, in order to find freedom this season?

Here are some words of encouragement to you:

“Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

God will hear your honest cries for help. He has not abandoned you, or your family. Hold on to hope, and seek freedom.

Merry Christmas, friends. Don’t forget what Jesus did for all of us. He left His home for us...He came as a baby to make our us His family, so that we can have an eternal home with Him.

It is a beautiful, hopeful, gracious, kind of story. It’s redemption...the kind of redemption that can make your home here, new.

Merry Christmas everyone! May blessings be lavished on you and your family this Christmas season.