Christmas isn’t always pretty

Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her king…

I love the old Christmas carols. They have this perfect way of bringing the past into the present. Unfortunately, all too often the past sneaks into the present in much uglier ways.

We set our expectations for Christmas – full of beauty and giving, family and the hope of Jesus. What do we do when Christmas isn’t pretty? Instead of beauty we have anger? Or worse?

I was reminded today of the harsh reality facing many of us this Christmas. We stand together and sing beautiful songs, and then walk into a wall of offense. Family members not speaking to each other, church members hurt or angry over perceived offenses- the past raises its ugly head in our present.

I’m going to be real here. I hate it when people are angry at me, or offended at me. It really bothers me. I try hard to stay away from offense.

What is this wall called offense?

To be offended means to be resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult. (Orphanedheart.org)

Offense will come. There is no way around it. It causes trouble when we hold onto it. Offense is one of the greatest contributing factors to people leaving the church. It tears up families and becomes a stumbling block to recovery. I used this particular definition of offense because I want to stress these words…. perceived insult….

If I ever do or say something that you perceive in a negative way, Please know that I am not that person. I will apologize even though I did not intend to hurt you. I apologize that you are offended- because I take it that seriously. We are in the middle of the Christmas season. I want it to be pretty- but I know that it might not be. I want to see our families draw together and celebrate in hope- but I know they won’t all come. I want our churches to stand together in love- but I know we have unhealed wounds from the past.

Are we going to let the past turn our thoughts into offense? It is so easy to slip into it, especially when you know someone is offended at you. Today I caught myself getting angry, offended because my apology was not received well. I tried. It was important to me. I refuse to let offense change my heart this Christmas. I have worked too darn hard to heal from my wounds of the past.

Christmas isn’t always pretty, but it can always bring hope. The first Christmas, in a dirty cave full of animals, certainly wasn’t pretty either. Nevertheless, Hope was born. Does offense have a hold on your family or your relationships? Don’t let it ruin your recovery. Don’t let it become a stumbling block for you -or someone else. Let’s talk about it!

However, the one thing that remains constant through all the Christmas stress and hurt and heartache is the real reason we celebrate: Jesus. Jesus will never let you down. Jesus was born as a baby as a gift for you, the ultimate gift of salvation and eternal love. That is the true meaning of Christmas. People fight, people die, people leave, money disappears and Christmas can be difficult. But Jesus remains constant. Taylor Reiman (theodysseyonline.com)

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