Friday, December 28, 2012
Not a very positive post-Christmas post title, is it? But the thoughts have been (again) swirling around in my head and I feel compelled to (try to) articulate them. I think that the greatest lie that our modern culture has been sold isn't sexual freedom, or secularism, or alternate religions, or any of the common culprits. I think the greatest lie that permeates every facet of our society is that the most important thing in life is family and friends. I especially see it during the holiday season. It's over and over and over again billed as the reason for the season. I even see many Christians espousing the "family and friends" mantra. It's the greatest lie because it's so insidious and non-threatening. As an alternative to obscene materialism, one-upmanship, and religious power struggles (what should be on display on the city grounds - a Menorah? a Nativity? a holiday tree? none of the above?), the imagery of the warm, happy, secure family unit gathered around the fireplace sounds downright divine. And therein lies the great danger. Nearly all of us know, intuitively, that crass consumerism, bickering, and keeping-up-with-the-Jones are not good. But it's much harder to picture the center orientation of family for the holidays as something bad. And that's why it's such a dangerous lie. The problem is that family and friends can never satisfy you at your deepest core. Inevitably, they will let you down. For some, it comes sooner than others - a parent who's tuned out, a sibling who spreads malicious gossip, a husband who succumbs to infidelity, a best friend who always takes but gives little in return. But even if you feel like you have the very best family on the earth (as I do) - they will still let you down, if not in life, in death. When I lost my mom, I felt let down. I felt abandoned. Logically I know that it wasn't her choice to leave, but that doesn't keep the heart from hurting, and perhaps even being a bit angry. This Christmas was the most difficult of my life, but through that pain I learned a most glorious lesson - that the center of our life must always and only be God and God alone. My family is a beautiful, beautiful gift, one of the best that the Lord offers. I will never cease to praise Him for what he has so graciously bestowed upon me. But they are not mine and I am not theirs. We all ultimately and exclusively belong to the King of All Creation. We are only "on loan" to each other for what is, to God, the blink of an eye. I thank God for his unwavering faithfulness and pledge to orient myself towards him, above all others, for all the remaining Christmases of my life.