When you live with depression and anxiety sometimes even the good stuff feels bad.
Well, I’m possibly not the only person that will be glad to see the end of 2015! It’s been a year I’d rather blow up with ferocious explosives (ala Guy Falk’s style) than with pretty fireworks and parties. And of course, before we can get to that elusive new year with all its promises of renewal, we’re trapped within the expectations of that ‘Christian’ festival: Christmas.
There’s a part of me that would be happy to ignore Christmas and to slide into summer sitting by the edge of the water daydreaming about how the world should be and what I might do to change things. And then, I’m drawn back into the disappointment that comes with the futility of my efforts and my inability to change even the smallest things.
Never before have we had access to so much information and opinion. Never before have we had greater expectations of ourselves or of others. Never before have we been challenged by what’s right and what’s wrong as much as we are now. We’re stuck in an ever-expanding deception of our own making, rolling, uncontrolled to an unknown destination.
There are a number of presumptions about how the festival of ‘Christmas’ began. It’s generally acknowledged Christmas was a time of celebration in the northern hemisphere that already existed. It was later ‘ambushed’ by Christians who made these festivals their own! It’s a dilemma now caught up in supposition that vague historical facts do little to either support or deny.
Frankly, I think the argument is moot.
We’d all join in this time of excitement whether Christian or not, simply because we’ve been created to be in relationship and Christmas, regardless of it’s origins, entices us into interactions with others. Those Christmas interactions are meant to be separate from the usual humdrum struggles of day-to-day life and instead filled with special food, drink and performances intended to excite and entertain us.
It seems in recent times everyone has attempted to make Christmas their own. The most notable in modern time is the marketing masterpiece executed by the Coca-Cola company – that image of the merry, bearded, chubby (possibly due to the amount of Coke he drank) red suit we attribute to the image of Santa Clause! We are as addicted to this image in our Christmas as we are the sugar in Coca-Cola’s other products.
However, I’ve digressed.
With the amount of misinformation we’re exposed to how are we to know truth? Even my ‘less than humble’ opinion is filtered through my own understanding of the world. Tainted by my own experiences. And, cultivated with the tools only I have at hand. And while the rest of the world argues about whether Christmas belongs to Christians, Pagans, Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, Farmers, Children, Dogs, Cats or Ants, I’m predisposed to consider this time, one of relationships.
Whether it began as an opportunity to celebrate the earth or the sun or the weather, it doesn’t detract from the one infallible factor that’s played out every time we celebrate: the relationships we have with each other.
Whatever we celebrate we do it in relationship with others. Christmas seems to be the one time of the year that will most likely challenge us to put aside the breaches of trust, the poor behaviour, the general dislike, the hurt, the frustration and the pain, to recognise the relationships we have with others in order to celebrate whatever it is you choose to celebrate.
For me, Christmas is a time to intentionally consider and reflect on the relationship I have with a creator God. Not the God I was told about at Sunday school. Not the God I was told about in seemingly endless Anglican Church services. Not the God I was told about in confirmation classes. Not the God I was angry with for all the pain in my life. And certainly not the God who I believed allowed death and destruction and wars.
For me, Christmas is a time to consider and reflect on my relationship with a God who revealed Himself in a way so personal that I felt inexplicably whole for the first time. With all my weaknesses and doubts, all my fears and incorrect expectations, all my worries and insecurities, a God who, whilst the humanity He created attempts to destroy itself, seeks only for us to choose a relationship with Him.
A relationship with God is not an easy thing. It challenges me to see the world through the filter of my relationship with Him rather than what I’d been told to expect from Him.
From the book of Matthew 16:13-17
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.