Each year on 25th December, I spend some time reflecting on what my life has amounted to so far – because it’s my birthday (too).

But at the annual realisation that I’ve still neither invented a life-changing device nor solved global poverty, I’m always tempted to fall into the familiar pit of self-pity and misery.

As a youth, I’d always looked up to the older ones in my church. Especially those who were truly gifted with many talents. Musically inclined. Athletic. Intelligent. Creative. Sociable.

But as I observed how they too had many weaknesses, I grew jaded with my role models and even more frustrated with my own failings. I was critical of others, because I was equally hard on myself.

And as I struggled with this sense of failure and my own private sins – I was shrouded in a suffocating fog of shame, guilt and despair.

This never-ending cycle of escapism will continue to haunt us for the rest of our lives – if this is all we choose to live for.

Birthday after birthday, as I transitioned from adolescent to adulthood, the weight of responsibility for my own life just grew heavier. Immense, almost.

When we were once children, we longed for freedom from control. Now, as adults we long for freedom from responsibilities. Clearly, this never-ending cycle of escapism will continue to haunt us for the rest of our lives – if this is all we choose to live for.

That’s not how I want to live for the rest of my life, so when Christmas comes around, I try to think about how my birthday buddy, Jesus Christ, would celebrate His own birthday. He is, after all, infinitely greater and wiser than me.

Would He throw himself a party in Heaven? Would He have spent the time praying when He was still on earth? I think that while we’d feast – Jesus would fast. And pray – the way He did for all of us before He returned to Heaven (John 17).

“And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17: 11)

He prayed that we, brothers and sisters who believe in Him, may be as one. To find solidarity in one another’s suffering. To counsel one another when facing a dilemma. To provide a safe space for healing and vulnerability. And ultimately, to point one another back to Him when we lose our way.

I realise that there are many of us, like myself, who painfully choose to stay in this journey of suffering alone – thinking that no one could possibly understand. 

But Jesus was right – it is best to be as one. Sometimes the most reassuring moments I’ve experienced was when a friend listened to what I was struggling with. No bombastic advice. No brushing aside of emotions. Just listening empathetically.

He prayed that we, brothers and sisters who believe in Him, may be as one.

Regardless of what you think of Christmas, the end of the year is still a wonderful time for reflection and self-examination.
Enjoy the season, but don’t get so distracted by all the feasting and shopping that you unknowingly forget the purpose of Christmas. Remember why we celebrate: There’s hope for all humanity.

Commemorate the miracle that happened when the promised Saviour was given to us in human flesh. Remember the assurance that we are not alone in our suffering.

The fact that God sent His Son down to earth to reconcile us to Him is telling of the depth of His love for us.

This is a submission from a participant of our Christmas Gift Exchange. From now till the end of December 2017, we are giving away a limited edition Thir.st Tumbler in exchange for every story on the Christmas themes of love, joy, peace, hope and giving. Click here to find out more.