The December nights are getting cold in Texas.
I think the next big fashion designer needs to invent a nose cap, to warm the population’s noses. Why do we have gloves for our hands, caps for our heads, socks for our feet, and nothing for our poor olfactory bulbs?
It’s the time of year when, as you drive through the cold dark evenings, you spot flashes of bright, twinkling lights – red, yellow, white, and blue colors illuminating homes all down the road. In Texas, you have to drive pretty much everywhere. There’s not many places you can just walk to.
One of these days, I’ll walk downtown and just enjoy the chilly air. I’ll slowly take in the Christmas lights, and the nostalgia that goes with the season. But for me, Christmas childhood memories are memories of cruising through sprawling rural neighborhoods, and occasionally hitting a fortress of Christmas spirit – you know, the houses that are COVERED in lights, have live deer and a sleigh in the front yard, and at least 2 Christmas tree in their living room window, and probably one in every unseen room of the house. You only get a quick glimpse of the magnificent lights and warmth before you’re whisked back down the black highway. You’re left looking eagerly forward to the next glimpse of Christmas.
For me, that’s Christmas.
The more years I’ve lived, the more I’ve realized how painful the holidays are for so many people now. It feels like we’re just trying to get through the noise sometimes, and make it to the other side. The very season that is supposed to stand for joy and peace, begins to stand for just the opposite, because we realize just how much joy and peace and love we may lack in our life. We feel a void.
Maybe the void is because of a lost loved one. Or a lost sense of innocence. Lost faith in a person, or in God.
However you find yourself this Christmas, let me encourage you to remember that there will never be another Christmas just like this one.
You will fully experience the pain of that first holiday without that special loved one once. You will only have one first Christmas with your child. You will only have one last Christmas with a loved one. You will only have one Christmas just like this Christmas.
So live this Christmas.
So please, don’t throw away all the other Christmases because this Christmas feels so dark and terrible.
Yes, this Christmas is hard – but there are so many other days, so many other holidays, in store. And who knows what beautiful things could happen that you would not want to miss?
Right now, the pain may be all you can see – all you think you will ever experience – but though you are maybe feeling all the pain of the fleeting quality of this earth, let it encourage you – because all the pain is temporary too. Don’t try to fill the hole with noise, loud music, money, or even people – stay alive to seek out what will satisfy your soul, because I know you can find it.
I have often felt that void myself. There were two, actually.
One was filled the day I filled it with faith in the God who became little baby Jesus. The other still hurts, but it’s ok, because now I know why it’s there.
C. S. Lewis describes this 2nd painful hunger very well:
‘If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.’
Christians still long for eternity, long for permanence, long for perfect love. We haven’t gotten there yet. But we endure the pain… one day, that desire for perfect joy and peace will be satisfied in full.
If you can’t feel the hope of the season, believe in the hope of eternity. The hope you have because Someone loves you, and will get you through this valley to the next part of life.
Don’t miss this Christmas, please.
Before you know it, you’ll have passed through this black stretch of road – and you’ll see a light ahead. And you’ll be so glad you stayed.
And so will I. And so will all the people in your life.
In light of all the lives that are taken this time of year, I am posting the national suicide lifeline number on my Contact page. There is also a number that can be texted, if you’re like me and hate phones. If you are really struggling, please call. And if you know someone at risk, please reach out to them. Share the good news of Christmas, and the good gift of your company this Christmas. That’s the best gift I get from my family and friends every year – the gift of their presence.