One December, I was particularly disillusioned with the commercialisation of the holiday season, or so I tried to convince myself. I wished Christmas would go away. I was in a funk, and I planned to hide during the holidays and spend my time watching a marathon of old musicals and eating a couple of frozen dinners. I ditched my bedraggled Christmas tree the year before due to water damage in my storage room, and I wasn’t planning on buying another anytime soon.
I deliberately withheld my plans to my local friends. I wanted to be alone because I was determined to stay in a funk. Behind my ‘Bah Humbug’ routine, a lonely, isolated heart hid. Pride and a fear of transparency kept me from disclosing to others and admitting to myself that I dreaded another lonely Christmas. Such is the life of a disabled, single woman who has no family nearby.
My Scrooge-like plans were sabotaged by a friend who innocently dropped by for an impromptu cup of tea the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Sheepishly, she admitted she had nowhere to go for dinner that night and didn’t want to spend the Christmas Eve alone. She thought maybe we could order out for pizza. What was a friend to do? I invited her to stay for dinner and rummaged through the dark corners of my freezer. Pizza was out of the question on Christmas Eve, even for a pretend Scrooge such as I.
I found a couple of chicken breasts that weren’t too freezer-burned as well as some frozen vegetables. Along with a can of cream of mushroom soup, dehydrated onions, spices, and other odds and ends, I whipped up a tasty casserole. Despite my best efforts, I enjoyed the evening, but I was relieved when she left. I still had time to wallow in my disillusionment!
I was back to my pity party a few minutes after my friend left. My phone rang mid funk. Good friends knew my cagey ways as well as my tendency to hide. They felt led to check up on me. By answering the phone, I blew my cover. They realised that I hadn’t headed out of town like I led them to believe. They insisted I was coming to share Christmas dinner with them the next day. I knew better than to argue. There was no place to hide.
I had nothing to bring with me to that dinner but my attitude, and God gently reminded me that my present attitude stunk! I had less than eighteen hours to clothe myself with graciousness and thanksgiving. I did the best I could although the dark cloud that had hung over me did not dissipate completely. It was a sacrifice of praise.
It was a sacrifice for my hosts as well. My hostess dealt with depression and chronic fatigue for months. Her struggle was her husband’s struggle, and they were emotionally depleted. And yet, they reached out that Christmas and invited not only myself but two other single friends. That afternoon, we all did our best to bring the light of Christ into our midst. All those gathered around the table that day had significant needs, yet we shared a bond that pulled us out of our individual struggles. We experienced the love of a Saviour who knew our weaknesses. We felt the touch of the Comforter. His presence filled the apartment and wrapped around each of us, giving us the most precious gift of all, His peace in the middle of our personal storms.
I am an extremely private person, and I find it difficult to be vulnerable and open to others when it comes to loneliness, seasonal depression, and worries. I much prefer to hide those emotions behind a facade of disdain of Christmas commercialism for example. However, my tendency to cocoon and pull away from others when I am in a place of stress or emotional distress has grievously harmed my relationship with God and others.
God has been relentless in His pursuit to bring a stop to such behaviour and I am currently (2017) facing the consequences of this behaviour. God’s solution? Transparency, accountability, andt the laying down my idols of self-sufficiency and a twisted sense of independence. I have work to do to carry out His directives as these gods have insidiously infiltrated every aspect of my life.
If you are struggling with the holidays this year, be honest with yourself.
What are the fears and hurts that you are trying to hide behind a façade of disdain of the ‘commercialism of Christmas’ for example?
Spend time with the Lord on the next question and don’t allow yourself to dodge the question,
Is there an idol of self-sufficiency and independence in your life? Do you hide a fear of being seen as weak or needy with a thin veneer of not wanting to bother anyone with your problems?
Do you believe this saying to be true? “God helps those who help themselves.” It’s not in the Bible – go ahead and look. While God asks us to do our very best, He knows we cannot do our very best without HIS intervention, help, and guidance.
Do you only seek God’s advice when you hit a brick wall? Perhaps you wouldn’t be hitting that brick wall if you asked for directions before heading down the road. Is there secret rebellion in your heart and a sense of resentment that God asks us to turn on His supernatural GPS when it comes to the route He wants us to take in our daily lives?
Western World Christians struggle with the idolatry of independence and self-sufficiency much more than the rest of the world. As a result, we struggle with a sense of disconnect with our local church, our extended family, and worst of all, a disconnect with a God who wants to be intimately involved with every aspect of our lives.
Take time this Advent season to get to know Him as Immanuel – God with us.
All Bible verses, unless otherwise attributed, are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
Until Next Week
©2017 Katherine Walden
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