Christmas is a time of peace on earth and good will toward men. Or so we are told.
Rather, in our modern day, it is a time of insane commercialism and insatiable greed. We spend all of our money for gifts and fight on, tossing future earnings, plus interest, into the melee. All of this to buy gifts for our loved ones, no matter the cost or physical harm that may come to our bodies.
I wonder why we never pause, reflect and ask why. Why do we damage our health and finances to find the perfect toys or electronics? What lies behind our behavior?
Do we, in our day, love our friends and family more than people in the past? No, there has to be more to it than that.
Are we simply slaves to the demands of advertising? Do we purchase because the advertising gods command us to? There is a lot of truth to that.
Yet, there has to be more to the story.
If we dig deeper, we find a deep guilt that drives us. We are all so busy and disconnected to each other in our world that we are torn apart by inadequacy. We try to remain tethered through electronic messages of various sorts. Yet, our actual time together is rare and unfulfilling. We do not truly connect as families once did.
Somewhere deep inside our souls, we know something is missing and we overcompensate at Christmas to salve that wound.
If we can buy everything our children want, maybe, maybe, the guilt raging in our souls will be mollified. Nevertheless, it still burns. So, we head out again and again, returning to battle, hoping the elusive victory will finally be ours.
We want the love of our children, relatives, friends and family and we fear that instead they will reject us, which of course we deserve. Our inadequacies cloud our judgments in such a busy world. We use the wrong tools to fix the problems and become frustrated when the job is never finished.
The materialism of our day is most often a cry for absolution. If we can be absolved for missing so much of our loved one’s lives, we will finally feel whole.
Instead, the frenzy of life continues and parents can become afraid of their children’s disapproval. So, we channel our self-loathing into materialism to over-compensate for our shortcomings.
What we once called “buying their love,” is so common today that no one speaks of it anymore.
How do we fill this hollowness in our souls? This insatiable hunger for approval?
First, we admit that we have a problem. We swallow our pride and fear and admit to our children and families how we have failed them and plead for forgiveness.
Second, we forgive ourselves and start the healing process by re-connecting with the hearts of those who truly matter in our lives.
Third, we allow God to fill our hearts and souls, so we can learn a new perspective on the world. We learn simplicity (Matthew 6:25-34) and peace (Philippians 4:7) and that we are spiritual beings who become lost the more we deny the hunger in our souls (Romans 12:1-2).
Fourth, we learn new priorities about people, love and material things. We become committed to one another and shun the message of the world.
Christmas, like every other day, becomes a day of reflection, thankfulness and humility. We replace “look how many things I can buy” with “look how blessed I am.”
This change of mind will open our eyes to the hyper-materialism that has heretofore blinded us to the disastrous road we are on. Satan is leading us off of a cliff and the Shepherd is there to lead us to safety and make us whole today (John 10; Psalm 23).