Every December the world is faced with the mystery, the magic, and the miracle of Christmas. For thirty days out of the year we line our houses with tinsel, lights, and stuff our living rooms with tall, green fire hazards. We lay the cookies and milk out on the table for the myth of a man who will break into our houses to fill the space underneath our tree with gifts. Wide eyed children, awake all night with excitement, will trample under the tree to find out which box is labeled with their identity. In most homes, before a single piece of paper is shred, a story of a baby being born is remembered and celebrated. A baby born to die. One that would offer himself on a cross for the entirety of mankind; a savior. Then, just as if a tornado blew through the home, children either rejoice or moan at the sight of all of their opened presents before them. Parents sit back in their chairs but for a moment, if only to catch a single breath.
The day is spent unpacking, assembling, and playing with new toys. We sit around the dinner table, surrounded by our families and friends. A moment of thanks is given to the man upstairs and then our attentions turn to other matters. The house must be cleaned, unwanted toys must be returned, and leftovers must be sent off. Even after the checklist of “To-Do” has been completed, we find ourselves with more “doing” to be done.
Christmas is a stress.
Actually, Christmas has become a stress.
I meandered in to the mall today (first mistake) with a friend of mine. He was in need of a hat for work and it just so happened that I knew a place. I couldn’t help but notice, as we drove in to the parking lot, that I felt like we had just arrived at a mecca of worship, so to speak. Anxiety quickly set in and I instantly bludgeoned my psyche for this erroneous mistake. We traversed through the sea of traffic to find a parking spot and hesitantly made our way inside.
Having to navigate through the mass chaos that is last-minute shopping made me think. I thought to myself, “Self, this is ridiculous.” Maybe not those exact words but I’m pretty sure that my feelings would have matched up. My friend, on the other hand, genuinely enjoyed it. “People watching is fun” he said. Sure, friend, but not when oxygen is hard to come by due to the massive amount of mass (see what I did there) being occupied by other breathing..things.
Despite my bah-humbug moment, I have to say that I genuinely enjoy this holiday. I’m excited to go see my family. I’m excited at the prospect of playing in the snow with my baby brother and sister. I’m excited to watch the Gators beat up on my dad’s favorite Michigan team. There are many, many things I’m excited for…I just can’t help but think of the minority.
When I say minority, I mean the ones who aren’t excited. The individuals who fear the word “Christmas”, the souls who shudder to think of going through yet another holiday season. I’m not sympathizing with Scrooges, don’t get me wrong. If you hate the holiday for no reason, then my friend, your grumpiness is a turn off. My empathy is for the ones who legitimately hurt.
For them, Christmas has no joy. There may be traditions, there may be food, and there may be gifts but there is no joy . Life’s circumstances have drained them of positive emotion. I can’t help but feel sorry for you. I certainly don’t mean that in a condescending manner but I genuinely feel empathy for you. I know you want to have joy during this season. I know you want to feel the intimacy of your lost loved one warming you with their embrace. I know you wish that your pain and hurt would melt like the snow. For whatever reason though, it doesn’t. No matter how many layers of coats you put on or how close you sit by the fire, the icy touch of life’s difficulties chill you to your soul.
Can I try and be a flicker of warmth?
I don’t claim to have all of the answers. I, myself, am sometimes riddled with confusion, pain, and a heavy heart. I doubt God far too often. I don’t put my trust in the hope of the Gospel. I would rather find my own way to healing instead of accepting the love that God so graciously gives me. I’m just saying that you and I are the same.
You’re not alone in this. You may feel like it, and your circumstances may very well tell you that you are, but you are not. No matter how many times you feel neglected, alone, and forgotten there is still someone (at least two) who will be there for you. I don’t care what you’ve done or what’s been done to you, God accepts you for who you are. He loves you right where you’re standing. So do I.
Stop for a moment and try to think of at least one good thing to be thankful for today. No matter how big or small, think of something and smile about it. During the stress, the anxiety, or the madness of it all don’t forget the real reason behind all of this…
A baby, the son of God, born to restore hope to a hopeless world.
Feel free to Contact Me for anything. If you need a listening ear, I’m here. If you need practical advice, I’ll do my best. If you want to tell a joke, I’m always in the mood for a good one.
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