Every day in December is jam-packed with stuff — just like my fridge. The constant ding of my phone is like its own version of “Carol of the Bells.” The month has just begun, and I am already exhausted. Yet, there is a yearning inside of me to not miss the true meaning of Christmas.
I find myself struck by many feelings. December feels so nostalgic. The warmth of memories and traditions wrapping me like a favorite worn sweater. Yet a quiet sadness also settles in like a fog — comforting, yet solemn. I sting for all that was and all that has been lost. A loneliness rises within me.
Christmas also ushers in shame. Shame for all I have not accomplished or overcome this year. Shame that, in many ways, I remain the same. Even after all the work, struggle, and uphill battles, I still argue with those I love, can not keep up with everyday demands, and hate myself for all that I can’t seem to overcome. My will to “keep going” takes more power to muster up than ever before.
Then there is my guilt. It is my cold companion. I feel the aching need to hide how I am really doing for fear that if someone knew my secrets, my guilt would grow. In the midst of sorrow, shame, and fear lives a tingling hope. A hope that this year will be different. This year, I want to savor the true meaning of the season.
How do we savor the Savior this Christmas?
Three temptations will knock at our doors this month. They will beckon us, call out to us, and continually try to steal our hope. You will be tempted to fill, cover, and hide.
We will be tempted to fill our loneliness with more food, more drinks, more entertainment, and more stuff. This temptation is so alluring. We so badly don’t want to feel our groaning loneliness that we will fill ourselves until we are nearly sick. Instead of putting more and more in your mouth, in your eyes, through your ears, what if you let your loneliness breathe? In honesty, confess the true condition of your heart. Let your longing to be loved in the deep places of your heart be known. Instead of reaching for more, reflect on the goodness of God.
We will also be tempted to cover ourselves with our own glory. Shame isn’t that we have done something bad, but that we believe we are bad. We have a stain that we can’t get out so we must cover ourselves up. We cover ourselves with fashionable clothes, nicer things, bigger homes, fancier parties, brighter Christmas trees, or anything that will convince people that we are better than we actually are. Instead of covering ourselves this Christmas, let’s bring our shame to Christ. Take your mask off and confess the things you wish weren’t true about yourself. Confess. Let us confess our sins to one another. Instead of seeking our own glory, let’s shift from dwelling on our own goodness to the goodness of God.
Lastly, we will be tempted to get rid of our guilt. Our guilt tempts us to hide. We want to retreat from telling the truth. We hide behind our good behavior and good deeds. Or we hide in the darkness of our sin or brokenness. Darkness feels safe. We tend to hide ourselves in the deepest corners of our own souls. But what if we receive Christ this Christmas instead?
Jesus came to us. He lowered Himself and came into our world, but He also continues to come into the caves we often hide ourselves away in. Christ came to lift us out of our guilt. He came to pour light into the darkness.
The Christmas cure is to let the love of Christ fill your loneliness, cover your shame, and come into your guilt. You are free. Instead of reaching to resolve your pain on your own, receive the gift God is offering you through His son.
I refuse to miss the meaning of Christmas this year.
So, even today, I reflect on the goodness of Christ who came to save and love me. I receive the invitation to feast at the table of hope God is offering me. I remove the layers and layers I have worn as a way to cover my bad from others. Instead, I put on the robe of royalty that God offers me through Christ. I am called a daughter of the king. I am of royal blood. I receive the light of Christ that came into this dark world. The light comes into all the places I have hidden for fear of judgment. Instead, Christ stood in my place. He took the punishment for me. I can stand freely as one who is forgiven.
There will be temptations this season, but there will also be a cure. Christ is the cure. In Him, I pray we find our hope.