I’ve Got Those End of the Year Blues ~ blog
Now that Halloween has passed and daylight-saving time is over, we begin the long slow descent into shorter days, longer nights and the end of the year. It is a tough time of year from many people and I am one of them. It seems like as the calendar winds down so do I and life seems to be more difficult as well.
I handle it much better than I used to when my sexual sin was still hidden, and I was a pastor. It has not been the Most Wonderful Time of the Year despite the gluttony of Thanksgiving and decorating the house with the normal Christmas treasures.
So, who are you turning into as the end of the year approaches? Are you the Grinch the steals Christmas … or do you become Ebenezer Scrooge … the cold-hearted miser who despises Christmas? Now, maybe that does not show on the outside but inside you are angry, depressed, and filled with self-loathing. This causes you to turn back to porn and sexual brokenness to get through the holidays.
So, I thought I would give you some things that have helped me over the past years to actually be able to enjoy this season. Knowing that I have this tendency is helpful because if I am aware of it I can begin to deal with it and not become overwhelmed and miserable but actually enjoy this time of giving thanks and giving gifts.
Foundational to it all is to be developing a true sense of Thanksgiving during the year. I work with men as a Sex Addiction Coach and one of the exercises I tell all men to do on a daily basis is to end their day by writing down 2 things for which they are thankful.
Paul emphasizes this in a number of places in his letters.
“…in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
He also tells his readers in Philippi to rejoice in the Lord … always … and again he says Rejoice!
However, I believe that in order for us to be able to truly rejoice and not just faking it there needs to be within us a spirit of contentment with how things are. That spirit of contentment is developed by giving thanksgiving in all things.
This is pretty amazing coming from the Apostle Paul … because when you examine his life, it really sucked. Here is how he described it in 2 Corinthians 11:24-27
“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.”
Then at the end of that paragraph, he says this;
“Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?
Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?”
Yet, in spite of all this suffering and persecution, Paul writes that he had learned to be content in all things.
I do not know about you … but the issues in my life seems pretty small compared to what Paul had to go through. I am not saying our issues are not extremely painful because of the damage we have done to ourselves and to our loved ones. But if you are reading this, you are still alive and can do something about your issues. We can repent and return to a walk with the Lord that is filled with the Spirit and living it out one day at a time.
Perhaps we can even do what Paul did himself in the middle of his sufferings;
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
We cannot always help what thoughts pop into our minds … but we can choose what we think about. Fixating on our problems, listening to all the doom and gloom news we have unlimited access to, and to not be growing in thanksgiving is not the way to end the year with a heart of thanksgiving.
Instead, let us learn and practice giving thanks in all things and keeping our focus on Jesus.
More on this tomorrow …