Happy Holidays...?

I found myself this Thanksgiving with a plaguing gut feeling, one that I found altogether at odds with the environment around me. I was supposed to be happy, thankful, excited about the season to come. Walmart shelves were stocked already with Christmas cards with smiling faces, families hugging, and jolly old St. Nick holding his belly.

But I wasn't excited.

Worse, I felt guilty.

The world was screaming that I should be happy, so why was I feeling less so sad?I sat there in my guilt for a solid two days until it dawned on me that feeling less than happy shouldn't be a matter of guilt. I began to look around me, and I realized that maybe underneath the happy smiles, people were feeling a bit like me.  And perhaps, feeling something other than happy wasn't wrong...

We're becoming inundated with a kind of stoic Christianity that says we should be smiling, contented people, ignoring the rest of our feelings. Preached from many pulpits (thank God, not my own home church) is the kind of Christianity that buries the messy feelings of grief, anger, depression, and sadness---as if expressing them is somehow an affront to the goodness of God.

And yet we see in the Bible none of the emotional repression that's taught in many circles. David's psalms prove that God is fine with our more negative emotions. Better yet, He's fine with our expression of them.

Why? Because we're made in His image. Because those emotions are a reaction to the brokenness that surrounds us, the very reality that all is not yet right. Grief, sadness, anger---these are appropriate responses to the realities that surround us. God isn't asking us to ignore them or to ignore the reality that created them. He's asking us to simply let Him walk beside us through it.

Though I walk through the valley of death, you will be with me...
When we look at the Christmas story we can see that grief, anger, sadness---these were all just as present as happiness. Remember that at the time of Jesus' birth Joseph and Mary were practically homeless and they would go on to spend his first years hiding their baby boy from a homicidal and paranoid ruler. All around them was social unrest, political upheaval, and uncertainty. Certainly they felt these things.

So if you are like me, and are feeling that all is not yet right with your world, know that it's okay. You are feeling what you are meant to. All is not yet right indeed.

But it will be.

He is coming...


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