Santa has come. The presents have been unwrapped. We’ve made the rounds to all the relatives we planned to see. The grandparents, great great parents, uncles and aunts have been hugged and kissed. Traces of paper are still all over the house, and stacks of presents have to be sorted through to pace the kids from Christmas overload. New clothes need to be folded and hung. It’s my time to start making new year’s resolutions, cleaning our houses, and moving on with life. Out with the old, and in with the new. There’s a chill in the air, but no hope of cheery children to warm it up.
(photo courtesy of http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/)
The same thing happens every year. For many of us, we anticipate the whole Christmas season so much, that when it’s all over we don’t give it room to be anything but a let down. Back to the grind. I know I’m not alone. The internet abounds with articles about the “winter blues” or “seasonal depression” that many people apparently struggle with. There are plenty of sad songs about winter out there, stories told with eloquent words about the feelings real people have about the season. “Winter Song” by Sara Barielles and Ingrid Michaelson has them asking if love is even alive.
So what can you do? For someone like me, depression is more than just the blues, and more than just a few days when isolation from Winter sets in. But whether your looking to boost your mood for a few weeks before things turn around, or cope with a bigger problem, the goal is similar. Cope with life, and not only cope with it, but embrace and enjoy it! But how?
Since the Dad and I started participating in Celebrate Recovery, we have become more familiar with the Serenity Prayer.
- “God, give me grace to accept with serenity
- the things that cannot be changed,
- Courage to change the things
- which should be changed,
- and the Wisdom to distinguish
- the one from the other.
- Living one day at a time,
- Enjoying one moment at a time,
- Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
- Taking, as Jesus did,
- This sinful world as it is,
- Not as I would have it,
- Trusting that You will make all things right,
- If I surrender to Your will,
- So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
- And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
- Amen. ” (Reinhold Niebuhr)
Most people only say a few lines of that, but I think the whole thing is God breathed. Think about it. “living one day at a time…taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is….I may be *reasonably* happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. ”
Maybe that’s our problem. We expect to be supremely happy while we are here, in a sinful world, with a life of hardship. We expect the impossible. Jesus didn’t have a perfect life, and yet he himself was perfect. He deserved the best, and he didn’t get it, but He loved and died for us anyways. Why would we think when we got to that next phase or stage of life, or moved on to the next thing, that anything this world has to offer could ever make us supremely happy?
So that’s our solution. Trusting that Jesus will make all things right in time. we can let go of the things that we are not in control of, and look to Heaven for hope. We can be reasonably happy in this life, not taking for granted the little blessings that God sends our way, sure! But instead of placing hope or joy in the things of this world, what if we were to bank all our joy and hope in Jesus? Whether it’s material things, opportunities, life events, or career goals, it seems like we are always pushing, doesn’t it. I don’t mean to imply that hard work isn’t good, or that it’s wrong to have nice things. I only mean to say that if the sadness comes only when the magic is gone, our hope is in the wrong things. If we put ALL our joy and excitement into the smiles on the kids faces when they open gifts or seeing long missed family members that are still present with us, where does that leave Jesus?
As these words are pouring out of me right now, I realize that God is talking to me here. While my depression isn’t mild or seasonal, and I won’t pretend I can always control it, I definitely acknowledge that I need more of Jesus. Like the SNL cowbell skit, I got a fever and the only cure, is more Jesus. Don’t let those words roll off your lips like a bad cliche expression. Savor those. That’s not to say if you have a legit diagnosis of depression (or any other illness) that medicine won’t help you. I truly believe that it can and does, but it’s only part of the picture. I merely mean to say that if you don’t have Jesus, what hope do you have of getting better? And even if your depression, blues, or life’s temporary worries subside, then what? If you don’t have the hope and anticipation of an eternal life in Heaven with Jesus, you really don’t have anything. A lot of temporary smiles and material things are nothing compared to the eternal hope that we can have if we let Christ satisfy our happiness. The truth is, I’m definitely guilty of giving too much credit to temporary things. I love seeing my family get the gifts I made or bought for them. I love spending that quality time with people I don’t see near enough of. But why do we love those things more than Jesus?
Cliche statuses and photos of the magical Christmas morning experience, and “Jesus is the reason for the season” memes litter our Facebooks, email and phone text messages. #blessed. But what about the other 363 days out of the year? Jesus gives us gifts every other day if we will only embrace them. Christmas day is not even his actual birthday, and even if it was, that isn’t the point. The point is we have our priorities all wrong, and we aren’t willing to admit it. Myself included. I am guilty of getting too much satisfaction from health and happiness of my loved ones and from material things, when there’s a world out there literally dying to know Jesus.
That’s why we see celebrities who have everything money could buy, commit suicide. That’s why the A-list actor married to a supermodel cheats on her. That’s why the dad struggling to support his family thinks he needs to drink his problems away to cope. We all need Jesus. Even if we have embraced him as our savior, we need more. Why don’t we long for more, like we long for temporary highs? Well, that’s the question of the hour, now isn’t it?
– The Mama