Tuesday, November 27, 2012

American Self-loathing vs. Radiating Joy

I see a common refrain as the holiday season gathers steam amongst Christians - a gloom and doom assessment of the state of the American people.  I've heard Americans call other Americans, as a whole, disgusting, ungodly, horrible, worthless people.  I'm not sure where this phenomenon of American self-loathing comes from - perhaps guilt about having so much when so many in the world have so many (but that's a whole other post for another day)?  But, coming from a Christian, as it more often than not does - I REALLY don't get it.  Too many Christians live a life of fear and anger.  The joy that should be absolutely flowing out of us is missing.  Especially during this precious season when we are preparing to celebrate God's greatest gift to us.  I'm not naive - certainly gross materialism and over consumption is a problem that plagues this country.  And yes, a few people behave badly on Black Friday (that's what spurred this post - a Christian upset about Black Friday in particular).  But I tend to think that you find what you are looking for.  If you are convinced that America is a worthless Sodom or Gommorah, you will (conciously or subconciously) latch onto the stories that confirm that viewpoint.  And goodness knows that that's not difficult in our modern world because sensationalism and bad behavior makes news and sells ad space.  But I think America is still an amazing country, full of incredible people.  So, I observe the little niceties that go on on Black Friday (on both sides of the aisle - I worked retail for several years during Black Friday back before I had a homeful of little ones, and I've made a tradition with my mother and sister-in-law and daughters of doing shopping and enjoying a meal afterwards every Black Friday).  People sharing.  People being gracious.  People teaching their children to have manners.  People giving a salesperson a gentle smile to defuse a tense situation.  What a difference that makes in my attitude.  Focusing on the positive helps me (hopefully!) radiate the joy of the immeasurable gift of the season - God's only Son.