Tuesday, December 20, 2011

All I Want for Christmas is a Soapbox...

As I’m reading this post before it goes up...I realize that it sounds a lot more depressing than I actually feel...so, read at your own risk.

It's Christmas time. This past week I have been experiencing much of comes with Christmas in our culture, and it's highlighted a few things in my innards. Indulgence is sort of the name of the game at Christmas time. And I'm certain that I am one of the worst offenders. From our spending to our time to, yes, even our eating...Christmas seems to bring out (or at least point out) a fair amount of selfishness in me. Let me start here...

Last Friday night, we had a staff Christmas party for all of the members of the staff at the church that I work at. It was great fun. We have chemistry that is uncommon in any workplace setting that I've ever encountered (church or otherwise). We have a great time with each other. Part of any good Christmas party is the food. This was no exception. We got food from one of my favorite restaurants in the area. It was AMAZING! It was the most delicious holiday party I've ever been a part of. I went into it knowing that eating more food than necessary was inevitable. It was sort of an unspoken agreement between me and my body...it was a special occasion, so we all (my body, mind, etc.) just looked the other way, knowing that it was an exception and not the rule (hopefully). Here's what I can tell you about all that.

First, I loved every minute of it. my taste buds were doing a happy dance, and my body rejoiced at the overabundance of caloric consumption. It added to the festive mood of the occasion, and I believe that we all had more fun than we would have if we would have eaten more responsibly. That points to the fact that food was created to bring joy in addition to sustaining life. Feasts are a common occurrence throughout history... celebrations always have a component of food. The problem comes when we have celebrations every day, which is basically how Americans eat now. I don’t think I have ever, in my entire life, not had access to a feast. The danger in that is two-fold. First, we all eat too much food and get unhealthy and begin using food for things it was never intended for (filling emotional needs, reducing boredom, etc.). Secondly, and every bit as insidious, it reduces that spectacular and celebratory nature of the real feasts when we have them. The impact of food on our celebrations is negated because it’s nothing out of the ordinary for us

The second thing I learned is that indulgence doesn’t feel good. I knew this, but it’s good to be reminded. I physically felt worse than I have in a month, I slept horribly, and I had very little energy for about 24 hours post-feast. Indulgence doesn’t feel good. Which leads me to Christmas. Is there a more indulgent holiday in our culture. We’re talking about a day whose official ramp-up begins with a day dedicated to excessive spending and impulse buys (black Friday)...I was there. I saw the carnage first hand. Never am I more aware of all of the things that I need but don’t have then I am at Christmas time. Never is my sense of personal discontent higher. That’s wrong. Somewhere along the line, Christmas has become about indulgence, and it goes far beyond food.

There is a restlessness in my soul today about my own indulgences. I don’t know what will come of it or what I’m supposed to do, but to this point, I am missing the mark when it comes to peace on earth, goodwill toward men. Food is only the beginning of what is broken in me.

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