For most of us, yesterday was Christmas. The gifts have been opened. The food has been eaten. The Christmas carols have been sung. And now it’s over.
Feeling a little let down? Did Christmas disappoint you?
Perhaps you didn’t get the gift you left a not-so-subtle hint about. Perhaps you gave someone a gift you thought would get a big response, but it bombed. Perhaps the turkey burned, or the pie you baked tasted awful.
Or maybe it’s something much deeper. Perhaps an estranged has child failed to come home – again. Perhaps shuffling children between mom’s place and dad’s place has reopened the wounds of your previously failed marriage – again. Perhaps having to deal with a loved one’s mental illness or addiction, members of an extended or step-family who you don’t like, or the new reality of life after the death of a loved one has left you only empty and spent – again.
Our hope for the perfect Christmas is almost never met. We may try to tell ourselves we don’t have unrealistic expectations, but we can’t help creating them in our mind. And every time we end up disappointed.
And most of all, the failure of reality to live up to our secret expectations leaves us disappointed in ourselves. We see all too clearly our failures as a parent, a child, a friend, or a spouse.
I can understand why a friend of ours vehemently wishes the period of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s would just disappear from the calendar.
It’s always been that way. Think of what happened after the very first Christmas:
- Mary had to go through the healing necessary after an always-painful first birth.
- Joseph had to quickly pick up his family and leave for a foreign country or risk seeing Mary’s baby killed.
- The shepherds, still poor, had to go back to watching their sheep, and could only wonder at the meaning of what they had seen.
- The wise men had to make the long journey back to their home, without the star to guide them.
Good memories are worth holding on to. I hope you’ve made some great memories this holiday season.
But Christmas also reminds us that this is about a birth. And a birth is the beginning, not the end. Our yearning and often lonely hearts know that this can’t be all there is.
- Our bodies still need healing.
- Our relationships still need mending.
- Our souls still need filling.
- Our characters still need transforming.
- Our lives and our world still need redeeming.
Our expectations will always remain partially unmet, and we will always be somewhat disappointed, until God finishes what He has started and takes us home to heaven.
And then there will be no let down the day after.
Yes, you and I were made for more than this. And it’s OK, even important, to still hope for it.
“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:5
Your Turn: What disappointed you about Christmas this year? Leave a comment below.
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