Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of famed evangelist Billy Graham, has said that after divorcing his wife and losing his church, he now “dreads” the Christmas season because it “triggers so much regret, sadness, guilt, shame, and a deep sense of loss.”
“Growing up, I loved Christmas. It was, by far, my favorite time of year,” Tchividjian wrote in a candid new blog post. “I loved the presents and the music and the lights and the chaos and the traditions and the decorations and the shopping and the Christmas movies and the food. I loved it all. But more than anything, I loved being with my large family.”
His love for Christmas only increased when he had his own family, the former pastor said.
“Their mother and I worked hard to create a fun-loving atmosphere of ‘togetherness’ that would make our kids keenly aware that they (like me when I was growing up) were surrounded by people who knew them and loved them,” he said. “As happy as my memories of Christmas were when I was young, my memories of Christmas with my kids are even happier.”
Unfortunately, those days are over, the Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels author wrote.
As reported, Tchividjian resigned as senior pastor from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in June of 2015 after after admitting to an affair and consequently losing his ministry credentials. Two months later, he filed for divorce.
“My kids are grown up, their mother and I are divorced, our family is broken,” he wrote. “Christmas is no longer my favorite time of year. In fact, I dread it because it triggers so much regret, sadness, guilt, shame, and a deep sense of loss. I live with a measure of these things everyday, but during Christmas they are intensified.”
Prior to his troubles, Tchividjian, who has since remarried, said it was difficult for him to empathize with those who found Christmas to be a painful time of year.
“I heard what they were feeling, but I could not feel what I was hearing,” he said. “Now I do.”
Sometimes, there doesn’t even have to be some big tragedy to make Christmas hard for people, Tchividjian contended. Next month, he will participate in a free event at Living Faith Church called “Broken Christmas,” which he says is “for anybody who is looking for some hope and comfort during this difficult time of year.”
“I need to be regularly reminded (and I’m guessing you do too) that the hope of Christmas is NOT that we will (in this life) get past our sadness and pain,” he said. “Rather, it is that God promises to be with us when we struggle through our sadness and pain. Christmas is, after all, the celebration of Immanuel (‘God with us’), the One who entered into our hurt and misery and promised never to leave us nor forsake us.”
Tchividjian earlier said his new website, launched in August, is for those who, like him, have fallen, and are in desperate need of a Savior.
“If you can identify with a status of ‘Sinner’ that is awful, and costly, and destructive of your life and the lives of others, then I invite you to ‘come along with me,'” he said.
“Come with me to your deepest bottom, and together, there, let us find hope and comfort and love and forgiveness and grace and mercy. Because the bad news that we are all guilty is met with the best news that God loves, forgives, and heals the broken hearts of guilty people. After all, God’s office of grace IS at the end of our rope.”