For the past couple of years, I've had a bit of a hard time around the holidays. I can't pinpoint exactly what it is about the Christmas season that does it to me but somehow I always end up feeling a little lonely around this time of year. Maybe it's the movies, could be the commercials, either way, so much about the holidays seems to center around finding love or stumbling upon whatever it is that you didn't seem to have before. I think that's the root of the melancholy I find myself experiencing during Christmas: how come I haven't found what I'm missing? The more I think about it, however, that's not what Christmas is about at all. I'll save the Charlie Brown Christmas speech this time but I'm starting to realize that the heart of Christmas is not about finding love lost or discovering that thing you've been missing, it's about rejoicing in all of the blessings that surround you right this very moment.
I've spent so much of this year thinking that if I had that one thing all of the other aspects of my life would fall perfectly into place. I find myself on the brink of the new year with a change in attitude. Sometimes what you hope for isn't all it's cracked up to be and unfortunately, that can be a bit of a disappointment. Nevertheless, I'm starting to see that it's not the end of the world if things go "wrong" every once in a while. When I stop and take a minute to count my blessings, I am astounded by all that God has given me, not only this holiday season, but every single day. I have a loving family that, although dysfunctional, supports me in all that I do. I have a small, yet solid, group of friends that I can count on no matter what. I have the opportunity to study at one of the most prestigious universities in the country and every day learn a little bit more about the subjects I love the most. I have a job that allows me to spend time with children that remind me what true caring is. I have essentials that many others around the world don't: a home, a bed, a stable income, access to affordable healthcare. Most of all, I have a God that is Himself the very meaning of Love, who knew me far before I was even born (Jeremiah 1:5). When I reflect on the goings-on of my life in that light, I find that there is nothing I am lacking and that realization gives my heart more joy than any material gift ever could.
I have big plans for the New Year but I know that I can rely on God to be my companion through every situation I face. In some ways, it's been a tough year, but no one ever said this journey would be easy. In fact, "[b]ecause he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested" (Hebrews 2:18). With this idea in mind, I see now that my challenges are as much of a blessing as the gifts that I openly recognize.
The kind of love that some Christmas stories relate is nice and all but it doesn't measure up in the slightest to the kind of love that surrounds me everyday!
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"
(Luke 2: 8-14)