Wasteland Kings

I have struggled in the past with the holiday season. The weeks of November and December can feel like a fog which lowers over my heart and does not disperse until the first week of January. I am unsure of the exact cause and yet I believe my family situation plays a big role.

The holiday season is a time to celebrate with friends and family. Since the loss of my father and mother, my siblings and I are a little numerically limited in the latter category. This can lead to a painful game of comparison.

As my friends talk about their plans for the holidays, I start to feel the harsh pangs of loneliness. It feels like my friends are taking a break from their lives to enjoy a magical time with a big group of people. My time with family is plenty of fun, it’s just my perception and the subsequent comparison which bothers me.

The ‘grass is always greener’ effect is really powerful when you have less people in your holiday plans. As they say, comparison is the thief of all joy and this comparison has stolen my joy in holidays past. The fog has affected me less this year, thankfully, and I’ve subsequently been able to step back and get a better perspective.

Christmas is not a day to be dreaded because it will cause me to feel left out. It’s a day to be celebrated and not just because it commemorates the day our Savior stepped into our world. Christmas is a chance to look forward to when Jesus steps back into our world for a second time.

I request you don’t misunderstand my meaning; it’s wonderful to celebrate the coming of Christ. His entrance onto the scene represented the turning of the tides. Our path defined by destruction became a path towards life.

Even though our ultimate destination changed, we still face many lesser forms of chaos and destruction here on Earth. Christmas gives us the chance to look forward to the end of those things. This means more to me than Christ’s birth.

I don’t believe this to be blasphemous. Putting an end to sin and it’s consequences were Christ’s work. I am looking forward to when He puts the final touches on His masterpiece.

He made an everlasting way for those who accept His Father’s free gift. He sent His disciples throughout the world to tell everyone of His way and His Father’s gift. All that’s left is for His second trip south to call the rest of His brothers and sisters home.

I don’t know when that will be. It could be tomorrow or a thousand years from now. It does not mean I cannot look forward to a day without any tears or sorrows. My heart longs for the day when Christ’s arms give me the hug for which all other embraces pale in comparison.

It is on this day all things like comparison, the fear of missing out, and grief will dissolve to nothing.

It is true that Christmas is a great opportunity to spend time with the family. It’s an even better opportunity to appreciate the work which God has done in your life and how it all started with a child hanging out on some hay. Christmas greatest opportunity comes from looking ahead in expectation to a celebration greater than any other seen in this Universe.

I challenge you to leverage the Christmas season to think about what Christ has done for you and what He will do for you. His birth was a wonderful gift I cannot fully understand. The next gift of His return will be even better.

Where do you find hope in the holiday season? Do you find it in the things or people around you? Do you find it in the God who promised to one day make all things right and deliver you to the greatest celebration?

I was telling a friend about this post the other day and he kindly pointed out that my post sounded quite a bit like the message behind the Advent tradition. I didn’t intend to borrow from the ideas of the tradition, but it’s likely they were just buried under years of good Christmas sermons. I don’t pretend to come up with new truths; just different ways to express them.

Advent is a cool tradition worth reading about because it does remind us about the expectation of Christmas. There’s a multitude of different ways people practice it. While there’s a multitude of ways it’s practiced and I have no idea if I agree with the theology behind all of them, it’s worth investigating. 

Image Copyright: Jeff Weese

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Matthew Rial