I've been neglecting my blogs for quite a while. Yet now as I finally squeeze some time out to write a post, I'm being forced to re-think Christmas.
Christmas is a time to love, people always say. Yet somehow, I've observed that a person's definition for the word love is always changing, either for the better or for the worse. Therefore, Christmas, the season of love, represents different things to a person every year. For me, I've never had more thoughts to challenge me before than I have this year.
Love is not a feeling, love is not conditional, love does not seek selfish gain, and love keeps no record of wrong. Love is kind, love is patient, love is not easily angered...the greatest of all things is love. I could quote endlessly about love, yet truly living love and manifesting it through words and actions proves to be a much more challenging matter.
Very often, I found Christmas to be a time to love and to feel loved. People give the pastor's family many, many presents. People treat us to both family and ministerial Christmas gatherings. Christmas is the time to see colorful lights and hear joyful music everywhere. Christmas is the time for people to smile and greet each other "Merry Christmas." That's what I used to feel.
Then these few years, Christmas started to add on different things. Christmas means exhaustion. Christmas means having to do programs and attend events that I might not enjoy. Christmas means receiving gifts that I might not like anyway. Christmas means having to keep a cluttered house as un-cluttered as possible. Christmas starts to show things that aren't as nice as tinsel and ribbons and universal happiness. I still like Christmas...but there seems to be an element of stress added to the occasion. Some people call that outgrowing Christmas, but could anyone really do that?
No one outgrows love, but we could outgrow some definitions of love. If Christmas is the time to love, then our definition of love has to grow along with our years for us to have the true spirit of the season every year.
Love means giving up personal pleasures to spend time on church activities. Love means stepping out of my comfort zone to celebrate the holidays with people who aren't my favorite crowds. Love means moving out of my room to accommodate Christmas visitors. Love means understanding how family and friends lessen contact not because they like each other any less. Love means giving gifts to people who might not or cannot give in return.
Love means forgiveness...compassion...and even a willingness to discipline. Love means bearing with others' weaknesses, even when it hurts. Love means making a fool of oneself, just to help others. Love means self-sacrifice.
It might sound boring, but at the end of the day...a better definition of love brings a better ability to love. And a greater ability to love leads to a greater reward for loving.
Oh the joy of seeing those smiles over unexpected presents! Oh the warmth of knowing that my presence could have made someone smile. A better knowledge of love brings a greater understanding of God's love...and that's the greatest reward this season could bring.
May God help me to always love Christmas: a time to love.