Christmas time can be one of those times when you can feel miserable.
Often this is because in our minds we play a little comparison game.
We compare our lot in life, our situation, and our ability to give, to what we perceive in others.
Social Media doesn’t help either. You cruise through your news feeds and see all the parties, presents and holiday fun. You make a comparison and realise you’re not meeting a perceived, and I stress perceived, normal (whatever that maybe) level of social standard.
Also your normal pattern of daily/ weekly life can be thrown into chaos. Work patterns alter, holidays are being taken, people and programs relied on to give your week a sense of rhythm are just not there.
Perhaps also Christmas is a time when you have memories of Christmas’ past. Your Velcro mind reminds you of the negative whilst the good are Teflon slipped away.
Really, Christmas can be an intense time of mind war versus ‘peace on earth and good will’.
Recently I have been re-reading ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ by Terrence Real.
In it he writes
A depressed person is endlessly caught
in the chains of his [or hers] rehearsed inadequacies. Terrence Real
Does that resonate with you?
Do you have an auto play going on in your mind of thoughts of inadequacy?
You don’t tell anyone but there is someone in your brain that keeps playing comparison board games. A game where there is no ‘get out jail for free’ card.
You just keep on playing the game while it seems everyone else is passing you by.
Where did we go wrong in this whole Christmas thing?
Christmas is about a time when God stepped into our inadequate stuffed up world with a gift. A present and a presence for some totally inadequate humans like ourselves.
If you have had children you know just how inadequate you feel when you are gifted your first child. You look at this bundle of noisy gurgling heart beating life and wonder ‘Am I up to the task of being a parent?’
Imagine the pressure on Mary and Joseph. You are the proud parents of the Messiah. Angels, carols, visions, and dreams. Crib side visitors of smelly shepherds and wealthy wise men come and confirm the call.
Expectations are out of this world.
Place your self in their dusty sandals for a moment. Feel the weight, the fear, the anxiety.
If you are ‘endlessly caught in the chains of his rehearsed inadequacies’ then perhaps the invite from God at Christmas is this.
Please get caught up in the rehearsal of
my more than adequate gifts for you. God
Christ was born into an inadequate world, to inadequate parents to be more than adequate for the deepest of our needs.
Years ago I would play my guitar for various Christmas events. We would rehearse those carols over and over again. Some of them are very difficult to master on a guitar but with enough practice and perseverance you could make a reasonable go of it.
I now rehearse new tunes into my muddled brain.
Each day I have a series of little insights that I speak into my mind. I repeat them over and over again because in my humanity it takes time to rewire the brain.
I have them written in a document on my cell phone. Each morning, and often during the day, I refer back to them, much like a hiker would refer back to their compass.
So for Christmas here are some insights that you might like to rehearse over and over again.
- You are not your performance
- Hold yourself to a standard of grace not perfection
- Your current state is not God’s final word on you
- There is a snare when we compare
- God entrusted his greatest gift to inadequate people just like you
- God reliance transforms perceived inadequacies into real time gifts
- Small is good. Remember that Jesus was once just a couple of cells
Spend some time each day rehearsing this insights into your thinking. Write them onto a little card you can carry in your wallet or purse.
Have a lovely Christmas!
Quotes to Consider
- Cherish your own vulnerability and quietly disregard internalised messages of self-contempt. Terrence Real
- The power of God revealed in Christmas is the power of a baby, nothing more, nothing less: innocence, gentleness, helplessness, a vulnerability that can soften hearts, invite in, have us hush our voices, teach us patience, and call forth what’s best in us. Ron Rolheiser
- The power of Christmas is like the power of a baby, it underwhelms in such a way so as to eventually overwhelm. There is a greater power than muscle, speed, charism, unstoppable force: If you were to put a baby into a room with the heavy-weight boxing champion of the world, who ultimately would be the stronger? The boxer could kill the baby, but, no doubt, wouldn’t, precisely because something inside the baby’s powerlessness would overwhelm the boxer. Such is the way of God, the message of Christmas. Ron Rolheiser
Questions to answer
- What is the Christmas struggle point for you?
- Does Christmas stimulate a perception of inadequacy in you?
- How is it a snare to compare?