What does Christmas mean to you?
When you hear someone say the word Christmas, what kinds of feelings come creeping into your heart?
Happy feelings? Sad feelings?
When I think of Christmas I think of a lot of things. I think of the good things of Christmas. I recognize the painful parts of Christmas. But ultimately I want to see the truth of Christmas.
The Best Parts of Christmas – Family
I have a wonderful family.
That really should be enough, but I feel like I should expound a bit about why they are amazing and are definitely the right family for me. [Like I have a choice in my family.]
One of the best parts of my life is being able to participate in my family’s business. No not their personal private business, but rather our family run business.
While I don’t do a lot besides try to keep things on track as far as record keeping and marketing goes, I do get to spend quite a bit of time around my family. Even on days when I don’t feel like being around them.
One of the coolest things about my family is that they accept me. When I decided to quit college this fall, dropping out mid semester, instead of giving me the bad eye, they supported my decision. They did ask questions, helping me face the music and ask the questions that I needed to ask before making that decision. But at the end of the day they are with me.
I am blessed to have a family full of people who I consider my friends. Not that I could get away from them if I wanted to… but they really are pretty incredible.
The Best Parts of Christmas – Friends
What would life be without friends? I mean really.
I find it amazing how spending time with a good friend, especially one who sees life a bit differently than I do, can change my perspective.
I have two friends in particular who I occasionally eat breakfast or supper with. The encouragement that I receive from those times is pretty incredible. I am very thankful for those times… [And all of my friends.]
I’ve heard recently that, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” There are two points here.
- Spend time with friends you look up to and respect, who you would like to be more like, friends who will help raise your “average.”
- Spend time with friends who look up to and respect you, you just might be able to raise their “average” as well.
I want to be a better friend in 2014. Because friends are cool.
The Hard Part of Christmas
I’ll be honest with you: Christmas can be one of the most difficult times of the year for me.
Christmas isn’t a bad time of the year for me. In fact the opposite is true, I love Christmas, or at least parts of Christmas. The truth remains though, Christmas is a difficult time of the year.
So I’m Single
If you don’t know, you should know that I am single.
Being single is one of the best things I know of. But it is also one of the difficult parts of Christmas.
It isn’t that I don’t want to be married. In fact, if I look back on the last seven or eight years of my life there were a number of times when I believed the time was right to pursue a relationship with several young ladies. The results weren’t what I was praying for at the time, but…
As I remember those times now I choose to believe that God had a plan, for them and for me. Would I have chosen that those experiences happen as they did? Nope. Would I be where I am today if it wouldn’t have been for those experiences? Nope.
So I am single. I don’t know if I will be single for the rest of my life or just another month or two. But I do know that my response to life as a single guy is entirely up to me. I can be a bitter, hard to get along with goon who really despises being alone, especially at Christmas, or I can choose to celebrate my singleness and do some things that the married version of me wouldn’t be able to.
[Anyone want to hike across Asia? Send me an email. :)] [I’m only half joking.]
If you are single… celebrate being single. Instead of moping in your “sad state of affairs” realize that your singlehood is a gift. Do something interesting.
I think this is an important change to a single persons thought process. I know it is/was for me.
The Power of the Single Life
I’ve been thinking about my life as a single guy, especially around the holidays.
My friends are traveling to visit extended family for Christmas. Or maybe they’ve spent time with their families and are now preparing to spend Christmas morning with their own little families.
I’d love to be doing any one of those things. I believe that is the way that God has set up our desires.
So I have a choice to make. I could get bitter about it. [Hopefully writing a blog post about being single doesn’t come across as being bitter. I don’t think I am!]
At any rate. When I look around and see most people, I see one thing that scares the dandruff out of me. I see a lot of people who are tied down.
They have families [which is totally cool]. They have fulltime jobs [which is totally cool]. They have a whole list of things that keeps them very responsible [responsibility is cool, just the way it can tie a person down is not my favorite thing].
As singles perhaps one of the biggest positives is that we don’t have a hundred things tying us down. We can try things. We can change our plans at the drop of a hat [if we are willing to]. Oh, and we usually have a bit of energy that a lot of folks don’t think they have.
So it is interesting that although I have a longing to have a family of my own, settle into a fulltime job, and shoulder the responsibilities of the “family man,” I am also terrified of the way that would tie me down.
I’m terrified of spending 55 hours a week at a job that I hate just to pay the bills. I’m terrified of going home at the end of a 12 hour day and feeling like I don’t have enough time to spend with my kids or wife. I’m terrified of feeling like I need to live the “American dream,” buy a house and a car and be paying off the debt for the next 50 years. [Apparently the American Dream has evolved some. The debt comes right along with the dream.]
Call me paranoid if you like, but the fact remains: it’s going to take a very special woman to want to join me on this crazy pathway of life.
Ok… let’s shift gears a little.
Jesus Is the Reason for Christmas
In case you have forgotten. This blog post is about Christmas. It’s about being single at Christmas. But it is about Christmas.
When I survey the landscape that surrounds us I see a lot of sad things. Perhaps one of the saddest is what Christmas has turned into. Again I don’t want to be misunderstood. I am all for having a good time. Christmas is a season of celebration and it should be a festive, happy, jolly time.
But we dare not forget what Christmas is really about. Christmas isn’t about glitter, green, red or gold. It isn’t about Santa Claus or Jolly Saint Nick. It isn’t about the wonderful food that we get to eat. It isn’t even about the gifts that are so lovingly purchased, wrapped and placed carefully beneath the Christmas tree.
Sure. All of those things are fine, they are beautiful. But Christmas is ultimately about one gift, the one perfect, glorious, precious gift.
This gift of course is Jesus, who left all of glory and came to earth. Choosing to take the form of a man, he was born, a baby in a manger. His gift didn’t end at Bethlehem. Instead Bethlehem, in a lot of ways, was only the beginning.
His life on earth was given up on a cross… as a sacrifice, payment in full for our sins, not only our sins, also the sins of anyone who chooses to accept this spectacularly free gift of forgiveness and salvation.
As if that wasn’t enough He also conquered the very thing that all of us fear. Death.
If you are looking to give a gift this Christmas. Think about the gift that we all are offered. First I’d recommend accepting the free gift of spiritual life. But I think you can also apply some of these principles to the gifts you are giving. Give a real gift this year, not a plastic toy that will break and be tossed out. Give people something that they won’t forget. Sacrifice for them. Do it in the name of one greater than yourself.
Jesus is worthy. Celebrate Him this year.
Jesus is the Reason for My Life
When I say Jesus is the reason for Christmas, I mean that Jesus is the reason for life. Christmas is the celebration of that.
At the end of the day this is what is truly important. I choose to try live my life the way that Jesus tells me to. He does that in a lot of different ways, including but not limited to friends, church, the scriptures, songs, prayer, blog posts, etc. Do I live perfectly? Nope. But I want to do it more perfectly.
As I look back at the years behind me I see times when I have not lived with Jesus as the focal point of everything that I do. That saddens me, because I know that those are times that were less productive than they could have been. I also see things that I’ve learned in those times that I likely wouldn’t have learned otherwise.
Going forward, now at Christmas time, and then as we enter the great unknown of 2014 I want to steadily focus on Jesus and His desires for my life.
As I look back over this post, I am greatly encouraged because I realize just how blessed I am.
I am also saddened, because there are plenty of people, not far outside of my life, who do not have these things. Their families are broken in smithereens. Their church may believe differently than they believe the Bible is telling them to live. They may have experienced the extreme pain of the betrayal of friends who have turned their backs on them. And so many people have not experienced the life change that Jesus wants to give them.
In a lot of ways I’m not entirely sure how to wrap this all up. So maybe I’ll end it in a way that is entirely cliché, but give you the forewarning that I mean it… 🙂
Whether single, dating, engaged, married, encouraged, depressed, no matter what state of being you find yourself in I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year! I hope that both are the best that you’ve ever experienced.