“Attempts to make the holidays brighter tend to give them a certain darkness.”
Cynically quipped Joel McHale’s character ex-lawyer Jeff Winger in NBC’s hit Community in their latest holiday episode.
I’ve found that beneath this lump of disenchanted coal lies a nugget of truth.
I’m gradually trying to slowly depress this inflated sense of childhood awe and wonderment surrounding the Christmas season; this high expectation of magic and mystique that must be found beneath the wrapping and lights.
The crusting of my cynicism towards Christmas iced over my first trip Black Friday shopping. Nothing really squelches a spirit of joy and giving like commercialism, materialism, and good old fashioned greed. My heart saw the gap between what I thought the season was supposed to be about and mobs of angry shoppers close to the point of homicide over the latest Tickle-me-Elmo, and shrewdly withdrew.
I think that I am not alone. Rates of stress, depression, and suicide ironically sky rocket around a time of year intended too foster love, generosity, and grace.
So what’s the disconnect?
For me, the disconnect happened when I expected the “attempts” to brighten the holidays to deliver joy and some resurrected sense of childhood nostalgia. I looked to the gifts, the lights, the songs, the weather, the ornaments, the people, the parties, the atmosphere to set my heart in a state of peace and goodwill towards men. Instead, I found darkness and disillusionment.
But Santa didn’t come to save the world.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
It’s almost diabolical that a season created solely for the purpose of remembering the sweet life and sacrifice of Christ would be the easiest to lose sight of this amazing, spectacular occasion.
This year, I’m not interested in blessing others with gifts, I don’t want to try to re-enact some “feelings of Christmas”, I don’t want to be filled with joy and good tidings, if I can’t have my mind and heart set on Jesus at the center. I’d much rather skip the whole ordeal and keep my heart from cynicism and withdrawal than miss the central point of Christmas:
I was broken. Jesus came down, undeserving as a child, to replace my sin with His righteousness. And now I’m whole.
If I can’t give with my heart coming from this place, I don’t want to give at all.
Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.
I will look to you to give whatever gifts you want this year. Make less of me during this time, let me see more of you. I don’t want to miss you, Jesus. I just want your presence.