9 Things I DON'T Want for Christmas
- Cliff Young Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 16 Dec
Another Christmas Season is well upon us and I don’t know about you, but this time of year always evokes a myriad of thoughts, memories and emotions.
I reminisce of the ones of yesteryear as a child waking up early and sneaking downstairs with my brother to figure out what lies hidden beneath the colorful wrapping paper, or the ones in college hurrying to finish that last exam so I can head home for a couple of weeks, or the ones in the corporate world looking forward to a week of paid vacation.
There’s the excitement and reverence of celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior coupled with the emotional battle to keep Jesus IN the season, the growing commercialism of the holiday and the expectation to be happy (or at least grateful), which can be difficult even for the strongest, most faith-filled of us at times.
This is probably a favorite season for most filled with family, friends and traditions, but for others it can be a bitter reminder of another year of dashed hopes, life without a loved one or just being alone. Some of us struggle through the holidays because it exacerbates what years of living have naturally left in its wake. It gives us time to think about past decisions, “what ifs,” and offences made against us.
Each year carries its own remembrances and treasures, joy and laughter, heartache and tears. And every one has the potential to be a new starting point to redirect or change the course you’re headed.
For most, it won’t be a gift, recognition or something tangible that has the most profound effect on them, but rather an incident – being thrust into a difficult situation, a loss of a loved one or a tragedy they face.
“Whatever has happened to you has happened for you. No experience will (or should) be wasted.”
– Oprah Winfrey
Challenging events, self-induced or ones totally out of your control, have the potential to make the largest impact upon your life.
There is a reason behind many of the things that have happened to you in your life. What you do with and through those difficulties, disappointments, tragedies, regrets and misfortunes will determine a great deal about who you will become.
Moses found many of those pivotal moments throughout his life (Exodus).
Jonah had to face his on a ship during a storm (Jonah 1).
Peter confronted his in a courtyard (Luke 22).
Saul was called out on a dusty road (Acts 9).
A couple of years ago, I was in a (solitary) situation where I could have done my "norm” and gotten by, but I felt God telling me I needed to live intentionally. I had to be more deliberate in my decision-making and not wait for, depend upon nor blame someone else for my circumstances.
I had found it somewhat easy in the past to justify non-action as a result of something out of my control. However, when my brother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away last year, I discovered what “out of my control” really meant, and how I responded with the tragedy was all me.
What I was told at the time, and sadly have said in the past to others in an attempt to console and encourage someone, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
While I am sure whenever this “verse” is recited it is done with a pure and caring heart, but there is just one slight asterisk - it is not directly from the Bible. It was derived from 1 Corinthians 10:13.
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
What I have found is God will give you opportunities to walk away from temptations in the same way he will give you ways (and possible course of actions) to withstand the hardships you face.
I have learned I don’t need to (continually) “handle” (or hold onto) my struggles because he gives me the strength to bear the circumstance, wants me to learn and grow from it, and use my experience to help others through theirs.
Over the years we tend to handle, re-handle and hold onto things like envy, bitterness, resentment and hostility. We sometimes treat our struggles like an unwanted Christmas gift - we take it out and deal with it every year, relive the memory and put it back on the shelf instead of just getting rid of it.
As I look around at all of the Christmas signs, advertisements and decorations, a common theme is compiling “All I want for Christmas.”
In the spirit of Christmas, I have made my list of things I don’t want for Christmas:
I don’t want to make excuses.
I don’t want to live with regret.
I don’t want to carry resentment.
I don’t want to hold grudges against someone who has no idea what I think they’ve done to me.
I don’t want to have conversations in my head that I will never have in person.
I don’t want to lose sleep (or time) thinking about what could have been.
I don’t want “stuff” from the past to rob me of how I live today and plan for tomorrow.
I don’t want to miss a moment to tell someone I appreciate them.
I don’t want to wish I had “done something differently."
It probably won’t be the pretty wrapped gift you receive under the tree this year that shapes who you are, but rather how you deal with the struggles, disappointments and tragedies you face.
So as you wrap up those gifts for loved ones, give yourself to others and share the Good News of Jesus, don’t hesitate to rid yourself of those past hurts, forget the bad memories that have plagued you and forgive those who probably don’t even know they did and enter a new season of giving (even giving away your stuff!).
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the bi-weekly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on facebook and twitter.
Publication date: December 16, 2014