Anybody looking forward to throwing out the candy canes, eating spinach and going back to work? Me too, and at the risk of sounding like Scrooge again, here’s the last thing I’m going to say about getting real at the holidays.
If I find myself depressed at the New Year it’s usually for the following reasons:
1. I’m overfed.
2. I’m bored.
3. I’m self-absorbed.
On Overfeeding: The impulse to share and bless is a holy one for sure, and science has proven giving feels good. But sometimes our networks are small and the people within them are already obese with blessing. So our lovingly crafted pies are buried under a feast large enough for three times the crowd. It’s so lavish, it’s convicting. Plus, we don’t have the Tupperware, everybody’s pants are tight and we’re all overwrought, but New Years is the finish line, so we choke down pie we don’t want, because it’s unthinkable to trash a homemade pie. I wonder, is the solution less pie or larger network?
On Boredom: God help you if you’re around me when I’m bored. According to the Myers Briggs personality test, I’m an ENFJ. What are you? That means I’m a big extravert who likes to take care of people and boss them around. When I’m not doing that I am easily convinced my life is a waste of time. That thought occurs to me nearly every morning and when my hands are idle. It used to bother me, but then I read the Bible and found a good explanation for it:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
I know I’m up against things I can’t see and when I’m moping around, navel gazing, they gain ground in my head. Friends, the answer is not to be busier, but to choose which thoughts can stay and which ones must report immediately to Jesus. That way if I’m sitting in my bathrobe at noon, like right now, I can rest and not feel like a loser. It does take a little practice though.
On Self-Absorption. Is there a holiday that encourages self-absorption more than New Years Eve? Certainly, self awareness and reflection are good things but there is no joy in selfishness. I know. I’m an expert. So if joy is what we want, we have to aim higher than just losing 10lbs, because, besides ourselves, who does that help? And where in the scriptures does Jesus advocate self-improvement? He doesn’t. He advocates dying to ourselves. The good news is, he said what you give will be given back in big, amazing measure, but you go first. Just like he did.
And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Eph 5:2
So here’s an idea:
What if over the next 11 months, we set out to make some new friends – needy ones – whatever that means, money, time, mentoring, food. That way next Christmas we can not be bored, and satisfy our impulse to give money, candles, infinity scarves and pie to people who actually need it. Who knows, maybe those friendships will morph into other opportunities at Memorial Day, Easter and Halloween too.
Not sure how to do that? Here’s my prayer, feel free to borrow it.
Lord, because I love you, I want to give. What does that look like, today, in my exact context? Please make it obvious, so even I can’t miss it. Inconvenience me. Show me who needs to see you today. Thank you. Amen.
Real New Year everybody!