Well, Halloween has come and gone with seemingly every store in America warning us that the holiday season is in full swing. “Turkey Day Sales,” “Black Friday Sales,” and “Cyber Monday Sales” are all headed our way so we have just enough time to run out and get a high-interest holiday loan to really get us into the spirit.
But, in spite of all the gifts we’re going to purchase and all the deals we’re going to get, so many of us will still feel empty and depressed during the entire holiday season. I’ve been thinking about why so many of us…even good “church attending” folk, often feel lonely, isolated, and troubled during the holidays.
Could it be that when we look at our lives in juxtaposition to what the Christmas cards show, we feel our experience is falling short? Images of a charming, isolated, snow-covered cabin full of gorgeous decorations and a beautiful roaring fire seem to mock our struggles to pay the bills. Those picturesque cards are unrelated to the reality of our family and friends not being completely delighted with gifts we can’t afford, and the intruding, unshakeable worries of everyday life. After all, when the holidays happen during days of hard times, trials, and tough decisions, they can be downright overpowering.
Instead of spending Thanksgiving being thankful for what God has given us, we spend the day over-eating and planning our over-spending, leaving us with yet another year of under-living. No wonder the holidays can be depressing!
The Bible warns us about letting society manipulate how we are supposed to be feeling. It also gives us the remedy.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
As followers of Christ, we are to be on guard and not allow ourselves to be conformed to what society is trying to tell us. The holidays are not for overindulgence, overextending and over-committing. If we let all the fake pressures of doing what is expected of us by merchants bombarding us with messages to buy, buy, buy, we are conforming ourselves to a circumstance not directed by God at all.
We also get clear instructions on just how we are NOT to be conformed to the “season of tinsel and tension.”
“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
So, what does “renewing our mind” mean? Taking a new look at the season. Re-thinking what we are doing and why we’re doing it. Perhaps even taking a fresh look at the approach we take for gift-giving.
Maybe it’s time to tell our family and friends that we are going to give a minimal number of gifts (or perhaps, if circumstances call for it, none at all). Perhaps instead of giving an overpriced and potentially unappreciated gift, we could volunteer to serve the family feasts, or decorate for the parties, or spend Thanksgiving at the community kitchen. I promise… they will appreciate the gift and you’ll be blessed for the giving – and feel great about it.
Perhaps it’s time to change the direction of our thoughts and meditate on the true meaning of the holiday celebrations. Maybe it’s time to re-think, re-focus, and re-dedicate our motions and emotions and put Philippians 4:8 to practice,
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
After dwelling on the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good, excellent, and praise worthy we’ll discover that holiday depression has been truly and totally defeated.
Think about it… and Happy Holidays!