I used to love Christmas but these days the season of Christmas and the thought of the coming day puts me in somber spirits. While I used to feel an exciting energy during the Christmas season, now December gives me an empty feeling kind of like the day after my football team lost. That’s a painful reversal and it really frustrated me until I realized that it gave me a really cool opportunity.
The absence of the old energy that Christmas used to provide made a way for me to experience a new and different kind of Christmas energy.
In order to understand my problem with Christmas, we need to take more than a few steps back and look at my younger years. When I was a kid and until I finished college, I loved the Christmas season for multiple reasons. It was a time when everyone seemed to experience a similar kind of joy and expectation about the coming day together; that shared experience always lifted my heart.
This shared joy and expectation formed the foundation of the energy that I felt and the act of giving was how that energy really took shape and direction. I love giving gifts and I really enjoyed trying to think of the coolest or most thoughtful gifts for my friends and family. This powerful expectation for Christmas morning would build around the idea of seeing their face when they opened their gift and that expectation also gave my heart a lift.
The final part of Christmas that I loved came from the fact that the chaos and grind of daily life would slow down for everyone. It’s fun to take a step back from the whirlwind of life but it’s far better to do this along with the people you care about. The energy of Christmas used to lift my heart above the fog of daily life and then set me on a quiet ledge with my friends and family.
This all came to an end during the Christmas season of 2010 though. I was about to graduate from college and what I thought would be a time of awesome expectation and celebration turned out to be a time of great sorrow. My mother was quickly losing her battle with Early Onset Alzheimer’s and we knew that we would lose her soon.
This knowledge completely overshadowed any joy that might come from graduating or celebrating Christmas with friends and family. The exciting energy of the Christmas season turned into this empty vacuum because I no longer looked forward to the next day. I knew that each tomorrow could bring a plunge into darkness instead of the incredible lift that December usually brought.
It was the fear of this plunge that made the Christmas season of 2010 empty and this emptiness still haunts my steps when the calendar rolls around to December. The energy of Christmas could lift me out of the daily grind but it couldn’t overcome the sorrow of losing a parent and that reality stuck with me long after the season passed. When I approach the Christmas season now, I feel an almost bitter sorrow that comes from remembering how the old energy of Christmas was lost into the vacuum of that painful time of my life.
Not all hope is lost though; that vacuum opened the door for experiencing the true energy of Christmas.
In the past, I fed off of an energy that came from celebrating with others, giving gifts, and taking a step back from the problems of daily life. While none of those are bad things, they just represent a few of the positive results of the real energy of Christmas. Kind of like seeing the ripples that come from dropping a rock in the water or feeling the air that comes from slamming a door, I was just experiencing some of the aftereffects and not the true energy.
The true energy of Christmas comes from a complete victory over darkness and has the power to lift me out of any sorrow or pain. It has that power because Christmas celebrates Christ coming into our world and placing the eternal consequences of all of our darkness on to His shoulders. My pain and sorrow are still very real, but one day they will come to a final end when Christ wipes the tears from my eyes.
When I wake in the days of December, a jumble of emotions from bitterness to frustration still hit me because it feels a little like I’m relieving that painful season. Those emotions no longer own me though because I’ve learned that I can take a step back and open my heart to the powerful energy that comes from God’s love for me. That love conquered darkness and made a way for me to go home to a place where I will never know sadness again.
That truth gives me energy beyond measure that can lift me above the darkest clouds; it’s also an energy that I can experience every season of the year.
The Christmas season may bring me a little pain and bitterness but this dark path can also lead me to an impossible peace if I lift my eyes up to Jesus and ask Him to walk this path with me. Do the holidays ever make you feel lonely, bitter, or frustrated? Have you ever lifted your head and hand up to Jesus so He can walk with you through this complicated and difficult season?
Image Copyright: David Singletonby