Christmas is supposed to be a magical time, filled with beauty, generosity, and friendship. But for many it is a time filled with heartache, emptiness and grief. Family problems, sickness, loneliness … all amplified by the expectations of the season.
I am blessed in many ways, but Christmas can be a painful time for me. Reminders that I do not have a “normal” family. Cracks in my marriage seem that that much deeper. I am looking forward to Christmas being over.
I got a message today from a long-time client of mine, with some very bad news about her mom, also a client of mine. This is likely their last Christmas together. How are they supposed to celebrate through the tears?
The Reason For The Season
In Christian circles we hear so much about “The Reason For The Season,” but the church is just as materialistic and monetized about Christmas as the rest of the world. Christmas is NOT about presents, or even family meals. While these traditions are not inherently bad, THAT ISN’T WHAT IT’S ABOUT. In our frenzy to produce the “perfect” Christmas we often damage and overlook the real relationships in our lives, the very things that we should be treasuring. The pressure to “perform” for friends and family, to give the best gifts, to have the prettiest tree, to make the most intricate cookies from scratch and give them to every neighbor within a three block radius – how are any of these things glorifying to God or edifying to the people that should really matter in our life? Have you uttered angry words at a driver who cut you off during this season? Have you cut in front of someone to get to the empty checkout line? Have you over extended your family’s finances because there is a certain level of gifts that you feel that you need to meet?
A quick trip to your local mall will decisively tell you one thing – people are stressed out. The pressure is getting to them. This in no way resembles the scene 2,000 years ago when two teenagers saught shelter in a barn.
The Savior of the world loves you.
Ignore the things that are making you feel bad this season. Whether it is a passive aggressive family member, or a horrible disease threatening to take a loved one. Just ignore it for a minute.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
Ok, if you are like me you just read that whole thing in Linus’ voice, but read it again.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
It doesn’t matter what else is going on in your life. It really doesn’t. The baby whose birth we are celebrating conquered death. And he loves you. He relentlessly pursues you while you are at your worst.
He cares about your hurting heart. And he was born in a barn, in a food trough, to prove it to you. It’s not possible to just “let go” of pain, but it is possible to quit staring at it, and fixating on it. Fix your eyes on the real reason for the season and allow his love to start to heal some of that hurt in your heart.