As the holiday season approaches, I feel a weird pressure from our culture to be festive and happy. I’m calling it holiday shame.
Sure, we all can find something to be thankful for as the turkey and dressing are passed around, and most Christians would nod and agree that Jesus is the reason for the season when we deck the halls and place the gifts under the tree.
But some of us may be pushing through the festivities and celebration, concealing our doubt, anger, broken hearts, and questions. We look at our Facebook friends, seemingly high on Hallmark Christmas movies, and Advent devotions for their children, and we believe this is not the season for an unhappy heart or a struggling soul.
We just keep dancing the dance.
After all, we should be thankful. God is working it all for our good. Just have faith. Jesus loves us. Right?
editing your life
Maybe you have found yourself editing your life to post an acceptable holiday attitude. Maybe it’s a stretch to write one positive post about feeling thankful because you are deeply disappointed with the direction of your life right now. We’ve all done it; written the token birthday or anniversary post- the expected and accepted.
Recently, this good girl was challenged by a devotion I was reading that perhaps I have been editing my prayers to make them acceptable and spiritual instead of being completely honest with God. I have told my children, my readers, audiences of women that it’s okay to be honest with God. Duh, he knows your heart anyway. Right?
Yet, I felt the Spirit of God poking around in my soul asking me to question my transparency with him.
I looked back in my prayer journal. I found a lot of prayers written with the right attitude, asking for the right things. Suddenly, I saw it. Dishonest prayers. Where was the disappointment I’ve felt over an unanswered prayer? Where was the questioning over the sudden roadblock God seemed to have put in my path recently?
Edited prayers filled my journal. I was praying how God was leading me but not from an honest heart. I desired the things of God, and prayed for his will to be done, but kept my complaints and disappointments to myself. I had lots of questions, but tried to paint the right picture of faith with my words.
Why is it that we feel like we shouldn’t struggle as believers? We try so hard to hold it together, even before our Redeemer.
God loves you- the real you
As the devotion I was reading reminded me, David was a man whom God called, “a man after my own heart”. Yet the book of Psalms, essentially David’s prayer journal, is full of complaints, questions, even accusations against God. Complete transparency. No shame in David’s game; he bared his soul to his God.
As I have considered the prayers of David, I see places in my soul where I have hidden my own anger and frustration toward God. Like hiding my junk under my bed when I was a little girl. Outta sight didn’t mean my room was clean. My prayer journal may have been filled with beautiful prayers, but I was not being honest with God. I was hiding my heart- at least parts of it.
The thing with God is that not only does know us completely, he desires freedom for us. He gets it. He’s not surprised that I’m disappointed, praying for something every day for four months and not seeing him move. He’s not angry with me because I’m questioning him. He’s not pressuring me to be thankful. He’s got time for me to work this out with him.
you don’t have to be happy
It’s true. God is good, I am blessed, and he is in control. Yet, it can also be true that I don’t understand, question God, and even get angry at him. Life as a Christ follower is both, and God is okay with it all. If you don’t believe me, look at David’s heart through his Psalms. You’ll find confusion, joy, trust, doubt, courage, fear, depression, and worry.
A man after God’s own heart.
Don’t be shamed by the happy holiday posts that you see. Don’t, for one minute, believe that it’s unchristian to be mad at God on Thanksgiving. What would be a shame, is for us to continue to hide any little part of our heart from our Creator who has already redeemed it all. It is finished.
So go ahead, throw all of you at him. He can take it. You are loved, accepted, worthy, and secure.
You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. Psalm 139:2