When You're Facing a Lonelier Holiday

I awake on Easter morning with a sad sigh rather than the joy I desperately want to feel. My husband and three college kids are either traveling or can’t get away from school. So, for the first time in more than twenty-five years, I’m attending Easter service by myself. 

Having no family around on a major holiday isn’t a new concept for a former military spouse like me. Still, familiarity with it doesn’t mean I like it, especially in the same year I became an official empty nester. 

I arrive at church and find my friend, Maria, who’d invited me to sit with her family during the service. We belt out, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today!” and listen to the Easter message. Afterward, we gab a good deal, and my heart lightens a little. 

After church, another friend, Aimée, invites me to have Easter dinner with her family. I fill myself on ham, beans, and biscuits, oh yes. Sitting at Aimée’s table, I also fill myself on the comradery of a family who isn’t my own yet blesses me as if they are. 

It turns out family can also be found in friends. 

Author Ann Voskamp writes, “If the tomb wasn’t empty, our hearts would be.”2 It’s true my home was much emptier this past Easter, but at the end of the day, my heart wasn’t. Would I have loved to have had my husband and kids around? Absolutely. But the emptier space brought by their absence also brought me closer to the knowledge that Jesus emptied Himself on the cross so I could be filled. And fill me this Easter He did, through time and conversation with friends. What’s more, my quieter Easter gave space for me to know afresh that Jesus died and rose again so I could be included and known. 

The tomb is empty, so I am not. Whether we spend the holidays in a crowd or at a table for one, we are seen. This is heart-filling truth indeed. 

And this truth comforts us because while a holiday may be different, it can still be good. 

God sets the lonely in families. PSALM 68:6 NIV 

Where are you finding God’s strength today? 

This is an excerpt from 100 Days of Strength in Any Struggle from (in)courage a devotional now available on DaySpring.com. Shop all books, journals, and devotions from DaySpring here.