Is Your Christmas Color a Darker Shade of Jade?
173 years after the publication of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, God offers a way to avoid turning into a Scrooge.
I used to joke that if I ever wrote my autobiography I would call it A Darker Shade of Jade.
I didn’t take the corporate road. I’m an artist. I’ve given up much in pursuit of my calling and because of that have often felt jaded about what life handed me. Pity party, table for one.
It’s occurred to me in recent days that I have in fact been facing this Christmas season with a darker shade of jade. I don’t want to talk with friends, be out among holiday shoppers, decorate the halls. Bah humbug! To be fair I have good reason. The last two years have been filled with an unbelievable and seemingly unending string of deaths of loved ones, the most recent being my Mom. She’s only been gone a few weeks. It’s rough. Along with that, there are several broken relationships that I’m dealing with where, at this point, a resolution seems out of reach. My physical body is also betraying me. The list goes on … wah wah wah.
I’m not sharing this to receive pity, just expressing why my attitude has become so dour. Jaded … and then some.
The truth is many, many people have a stinking hard time during the holidays. We are bombarded on TV and social media with laughing, smiling, happy families enjoying the Yuletide together. The pain, loss, rejection or disappointment we’ve been experiencing is only magnified by seeing others living life as though in a Currier & Ives painting. It’s natural to rebel, reject or pretend that we ourselves don’t want those picture-perfect Hallmark moments to post on our own Facebook page.
It occurs to me that this temptation for a pendulum swing from Christmas joy to Scrooge-like behavior is nothing new. As a matter of fact Dickens’ most famous character himself was introduced to the public 173 years ago Monday. I know I’ve been in Scrooge-ville. But must I stay? Mourning is one thing. I will still continue the process of mourning the loss of loved ones and I know the Lord will be close as He promises to be close to the brokenhearted. But Scrooge-ville is different. Scrooge-ville is damaging. It comes from a root of bitterness. The Holy Spirit tells us in Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.”
We all experience loss in this life and no one’s story is without disappointment. That’s guaranteed. But the Lord doesn’t want us to dwell in that festering disappointment. He wants us to live in His grace. His grace is real, tangible and it’s there for us.
Poor Ebenezer. Dickens describes his bitterness as “the cold within him.” He certainly fell short of the grace of God and his root of bitterness grew into a forest of anger which imprisoned him. He caused trouble for everyone who had the misfortune to be in his life. He defiled all his relationships, causing great hurt to those who cared about him and those who worked for him. His bitterness became all he had, all he was. In God’s grace he could’ve found the strength to overcome past hurts, hope to embrace the future, and wisdom to forgive — others and himself. All of which would allow him to love and be loved. All of this and more are in the grace of our God!
Leaning on the grace of God is ultimately our choice.
Look how many precious years Ebenezer held his disappointments close instead of those who loved him. So sad. But we have the Lord to turn to and Holy Spirit to talk to. We needn’t bury ourselves deeper and deeper into our sorrow and sadness.
Yes, we have a choice. God is not saying emotions are bad, rather to access His grace to handle them in a healthy way. So with His grace I choose to forgive myself, I’ll choose to forgive those who’ve hurt me, I’ll choose to move past rejection and defeat and choose joy!
Think of the joy that exuded from Scrooge when he chose to break out of his self-inflicted prison and rejoin life! “‘I don’t know what to do,’ cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath … ‘I’m as light as a feather, I’m as happy as an angel, I’m as merry as a schoolboy.'” He smiled and the world smiled back, he bounced with joy and he became a blessing to those around him.
So this Christmas and for as many seasons as the Lord gives me breath I will buy the biggest turkey (or organic hormone-free turkey) in the butcher’s window, I will dance at Christmas parties (or in my own living room) and sing my heart out with my fellow carolers (or alone with the Holy Spirit).
This season will you join me and choose to embrace the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? That’s the best birthday present we could give Him. And as for me the only jade you’ll find will be woven into my crazy Christmas sweater.