Saturday, December 12, 2015

It's Back

by Andrew Cromwell

The holidays are back.  You know, that time of the year immediately following Halloween when the stores convert their displays to the Christmas theme and fill the air with the dulcimer tones of Christmas carols.  People exchange “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” greetings and, perhaps most wondrous of all, join together with extended family for the required festivities.

For many, this time of year is filled with joy and holiday cheer. These fortunate individuals find the holidays to be a wonder-filled season punctuated with tearful reunions, delightful culinary delicacies and a general sense of ecstasy.  You know the people I’m talking about, they have smiles permanently fixed on their faces, a sparkle in their eye and an extensive collection of red and green sweaters in their closet sufficient to carry them through the season without repeats.  It is as if they are mainlining their own private stash of holiday smack.

But such is not the case for everyone.  For many, the holidays are not a season of cheer, but a reminder of loved ones lost, failures not forgotten and brokenness unhealed.  I think of my grandma for whom the holidays are a sharp reminder of the loss of her husband of more than fifty years.  I think of a friend who is newly divorced and for whom the season is now a reminder of broken relationships.  I think of those who join with family only to be faced once again with that alcoholic and tyrannical family member.

It is for these, and for all others who find the season overshadowed by a dark cloud, that I seek to offer this encouragement during this difficult season.

First, remember the One who was rejected by all and lost all so that you could be accepted.  So much of what ails us during this season has to do with rejection and loss that we have experienced in our lives.  We can take comfort in knowing Jesus Christ walked this way before us – rejected by those who were His closest friends, there was even a moment when God the Father turned away.  But because Christ carried the weight of our brokenness, the Father will never turn away from those who have made Christ their focus.

Second, recognize the reality of your emotional state.  You can wish it were otherwise, but for many, depression and the holidays go hand in hand and no amount of wishing will make it not so.  Denying it does no better.  So admit it, but decide not to make it the focus.  Don’t allow yourself to descend into its depths.  Instead, seek out friends, go to church, go for a walk – do the opposite of what your emotions tell you to do!

Third, release the past and focus on the future.  Remember, the holidays don’t last forever, and neither does this life.  For those who have placed their faith in Christ, this sad day will soon be no more for we will be in the arms of Jesus.  We can do no more to change the past than we can to keep the wind from blowing.  So we must let it go and give it to Him who can take the brokenness of our past and work it into something beautiful in the present.

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