My profession as a Christian writer has me Bible-minded 24/8. I ate up the scriptures like crazy before I ever started writing vocationally, but now I’m required to dig into them even more. I’m constantly reading and praying for the Spirit to enable me to produce content that nudges others toward Jesus. Even when I’m not “on the clock,” my mind is on the gospel—always mulling over the glory and wonder of what Christ has done for us.
If anyone should have been in “Jesus is the reason for the season” mode over the last couple of weeks, it should have been me. Having a mind trained to stay in gospel-gear, I should have seen through all the surface level celebrations and stresses and pointed others—and myself—to the God who descended into human flesh. But I didn’t.
I totally missed Jesus this Christmas.
The holidays and everything that comes along with them—namely, family gatherings—always inject a little anxiety into my soul. Many of my relatives disagree with or are confused by the life I lead. Before Jesus turned my entire life upside down (don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he did!), I actually felt like I fit in. But now I am acutely aware that much of my family views me as an oddity. I know I’m supposed to rejoice over that—people realizing I’m different because of Jesus—but in my weakness, much of the time I just find it very uncomfortable. And atop the general awkwardness of family gatherings, there are also other issues with specific relatives that make being around them difficult. Sin, addiction, and dysfunction mark my family just as heavily as they mark everyone else’s.
So, like many others suffering from December-dread, my major focus lately has been emotional survival. I kept telling myself if I could just push through the awkwardness, anxiety, silent judgment, and passive aggressiveness that would riddle these couple of weeks, I’d be all right. So I gathered up all the persevering energy I had and kept my eyes fixed on the light at the end of the holiday tunnel.
But in doing so, I totally missed the Light who came into the world—the entire point of Christmas—and ample opportunities to share him with others.
As I was driving home on December 26th and reflecting on the concluded holiday season, my relief over escaping relatively unscathed became overwhelmed by sorrow. Sorrow over putting the reason for the season on the back burner of my mind. Sorrow over spending Christmas worrying about how to avoid lost people rather than sharing the hope of Christmas with them. I spent the celebration of our Savior’s birth so consumed by my own inner discomforts that I not only tossed Jesus to the side, but I forfeited spectacular opportunities to share him with others.
While I hope I am the only one who failed so miserably this Christmas, I suspect that I’m not. There are probably some of you reading this blog today that spent your holidays as miserably gospel-less as I did. The pressures of dysfunction and emotional discomfort got the best of you, as they did me. Though we can’t go back in time and re-do the last two weeks, we can move forward into the New Year with the right perspective. We can resolve, with all our hearts, to fight against everything that would pull us away from adoring Jesus and spreading his message.
Though most of our families and friends only emphasize the importance of Christ this time of year, we know his importance transcends seasons. He is the most important reality of every month, every week, every day, every moment. Our hearts may have been far from Jesus on December 25th, but we can get ourselves into the “Christmas spirit” every day from here on out. The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are always worthy of celebration and conversation. May God graciously keep us from living as if they’re not.