And still, many others hurt deeply during Christmas.
The holiday highlights brokenness in family relationships; it brings the grief of those lost to death; it presents several occasions where individuals who do not spend much time together must share gifts, food and time. Holiday parties can be awkward and feel forced.
"Hallmark vs. Reality"Most people have a desire to have a "Hallmark" Christmas where even if things are not perfect, in the end everything works out for the best and love prevails in the most magical way possible. Of course, some families really do experience wonderful Christmases. They actually know and love each other deeply. They have meaningful holiday gatherings and enjoy deepening relationships together. These families are truly, blessed richly.
For the majority, reality clashes with expectations. Gifts are rarely our heart desires. Frankly, we often open up something that we never would pick out in a million years for ourselves and are saddened that dreams did not come true. We thank the giver and think about how to make it through the small talk to get through another family gathering without anyone getting upset. Some people don't even have gifts to open. They smile and act like it doesn't matter but it doesn't seem right and hurts. Even families that have tons of presents under the tree, more than anyone could imagine, still struggle with relationships that are strained. It seems no matter how hard someone can plan, people cannot be satisfied and feelings get hurt often by little comments, jabs or avoidances.
Truly we are a mess! Aren't we?
I shared the deep, secret reality of my Christmas feelings this year in this post, No Home For Christmas. It doesn't tell everything I am experiencing but it shares a lot; I sometimes wonder if I shared more than I should have. My filter for what to expose is not very strong. It is something I am still learning. It is my heartache this Christmas that my oldest son is choosing to not spend it with us because we disagree on life issues. As a mother, I feel a whole in my heart, but I know Jesus can fill all holes and heal all heartaches. This doesn't mean the relationship will be solved but it means that He will walk with me through it. I will not be alone in my pain.
As a Christian, I understand that Christmas is not about the tree, lights, wreaths, presents or cards. Oddly enough, it is not even about spending time with family and friends.
Christmas is a Holy Day that comes once every year to remember that Jesus entered this world as a baby to become our Savior so that we could be permanently reconciled to God.Christmas is a time to reflect on our relationship with Christ, a time to thank Him for lowering Himself from being all God to become all man, knowing that he would grow up to die for the penalty of our sins on the cross, so that we might no longer be separated from God.
Christmas actually takes place during or around the Jewish season of Hanukkah that celebrates the oil that miraculously did not go out giving the Jews the light they needed during the time of Maccabees. During the season of Hanukkah, Mary became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit, while she was a virgin. (If you want to consider more about Mary carrying Jesus, you might want to read Baby in the Womb.) She became the host of Emanuel - God physically with us. During this festival of lights, the Light of the World entered the physical realm as a baby who would be called Jesus; He is the only begotten son of God.
We actually are celebrating the provision of God Himself--how He gave Himself to save us from our sins.We are celebrating the ministry of reconciliation: Jesus entered the world to save us from our sins, to give us eternal life, to provide a way for our own bodies to become a dwelling temple for God, the Holy Spirit. Like Mary, God lives within each of us who receive Jesus as the Lord of our life and Savior from our sins. We are separated from the world and unto God, apart from the world but together with God.
Christmas should be a time of reconciliation, a time to rejoice that because of Him we can forgive others who have caused us heartache, just as God has forgiven us of every sin we ever committed or will yet commit.
Christmas is a time to examine ourselves and to let His Holy Spirit to examine our spirt to see if their is anything within us that he wants us to change or address. You might enjoy reading "Preparing Your Heart for Christmas."
Christmas is a day to soak up the presence of God, to become filled up and overflowing with the love of God, to be thankful for all He has done and continues to do and to rest in Hope of knowing that HE reigns and is in control, even though the world is spinning into evil and despair. He is the contrast to everything counterfeit being offered by marketers during this holiday that is suppose to bring joy, peace and goodwill to all men.
Jesus! He can't be put in a box. He isn't found in a stocking or under a beautifully decorated tree. He gives Himself as the eternal gift that never fails, empties, breaks, goes out of style or becomes unnecessary. He is a gift that is received once but that continues to supply all of our needs, that heals our hurts, that binds our brokenness, and that brings us into a state of becoming everything we were originally created to become. He is the gift that is perfect for everyone. He is not a quick fix, but a lifelong companion, a friend that never falters, and a person that is always with us.
So whatever heartache you might be bearing this Christmas, I invite you to receive Jesus, to know Him as Lord of your life and Savior of your sins. He is Christ! God's balm given to everyone in the world who will receive Him.
You might not get a "Hallmark" type of Christmas, but you have the potential for something better! So if you find yourself hurting this Christmas, turn to Christ and let Him be everything you need, let Him become the desire of your heart. See that you can really find peace and joy and love!
This is my prayer for myself, my family and for you.