Hurt Around the Holidays

I love the Christmas season. It’s a time when joy seems to fill the air—smiling faces, twinkling lights, and heartwarming commercials. But what happens when our internal world doesn’t match up to all this joy surrounding us? Maybe this past year you or someone you know received a terrible diagnosis, lost a loved one, or experienced the devastation of a child’s relapse. These things don’t quite fit the “mold” of Christmas. However, despite feeling these hurts, it’s common to conceal our pain during seasons like this.

I experienced a taste of this a few months back. I remember it was the week of VBS at our Shea Campus. Everyone was having an amazing time, sharing the gospel with hundreds of kids. But on Wednesday of that week, I received a phone call from my dad that flipped my world upside down. Without delay, he cut straight to the point. Those words, “Spence, I have cancer,” will forever be etched into the back of my mind.

I was speechless. I didn’t know what to do. I remember I got into my car, put the keys in, and began driving aimlessly around Scottsdale. Over the next half hour, tears streamed down my face as reality set in and my world came crashing down. Once I was finally able to compose myself, I pulled my car back into the church parking lot. I had a few meetings I needed to attend. But while I anticipated that everyone would notice my broken spirit, I was surprised by my ability to “fake it.”

Over those next few hours, I talked normal, fake laughed, and even provided some input in each meeting. I did such a great job of “hiding” that nobody even noticed I was experiencing the worst day of my life. I mean on the outside I looked great, even happy. But on the inside, I was falling apart, teetering on the brink of tears with each passing second.

I did such a great job of “hiding” that nobody even noticed I was experiencing the worst day of my life.

It’s no surprise that the Bible warns us against this. In Galatians 6:2, Paul writes, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Interestingly, in the original Greek language, that word “burden” was often used to describe physical heavy weights. What a perfect picture of how our burdens often feel—like tangible, heavy objects that weigh us down. And until we share this weight with one another, we’ll continue to suffer through this pain alone.

That’s exactly how my story went. I remember after my final meeting that day, I drove home, walked into my house, saw my wife, and immediately lost it. I mean everything I had been holding in was let out in one moment. Over the next few hours, my wife and I prayed for my dad, talked about what I was experiencing, and cried together. And while I know that might not sound very significant, something happened within me in that moment. That weight I had been carrying all day suddenly wasn’t all that heavy anymore. It was like I could breathe for the first time since my dad shared the news with me that morning. Why? Because in this moment, I wasn’t carrying my burden alone anymore.

That weight I had been carrying all day suddenly wasn’t all that heavy anymore.

Psychologists have coined the term “catharsis” to describe this peace that comes from unburdening oneself. You see, catharsis is that deep breath of peace you take when you hug somebody after a loved one passes. It’s that relief you feel after you confess your addiction to your small group and have them love on you. Put simply, catharsis is the peace we experience when we let others help shoulder our burdens.

So, here’s my question for you: Who’s someone in your life who can help carry your burdens for you this Christmas season? Who’s someone you can quit faking it around and get real with? If nobody comes to mind, I would urge you to check out our small groups page. At SBC, we have hundreds of groups all across the Valley where people gather weekly in order to share their burdens and support one another.

This Christmas season, don’t hide your pain. Get real with someone and experience the power of sharing your burdens.


Spencer Burnidge


If you aren’t in a Christ-focused community where you can share your burdens, visit our Groups page to find a place to connect.