There’s almost a popping noise in my head as circuits become overloaded. My eyes glaze over from wires crossing at a rapid pace because of the information being filtered to my brain. At the same time, bright colors awaken my senses and get my heart pumping. Words sear my soul and create a longing that wasn’t there just minutes before.
It’s all the Christmas ads I see weekly in the paper along with the pop-up ads I get online. It’s the computerized billboards that shine vivid images as I’m driving and the clever jingles I hear in my head for weeks from television commercials. It stirs a desire in me for things I didn’t even know I wanted and don’t come close to needing.
If you kept track of all the things you see that focus on others and compared it to the number of things you see that encourage you to be selfish, it shouldn’t surprise you that you might continually struggle with self-indulgence. It’s not that you seek to be that way, but it’s created partly by the environment or the world we live in today. But we’re still responsible for our response. I think the battle might be won more often if we understand where it originates. I have always found that understanding a challenge is halfway to overcoming it.
Within the last few weeks, I’ve been challenging my family and myself to continue to die to the things that we want. The more we do that, the better off everyone seems to be. It’s not easy. Being comfortable, continually at ease, and have everything go our way—now that’s easy. In fact, it’s pretty sweet, but it’s also egotistical. I could easily generate a Christmas list a mile long, because I enjoy nice things, but it’s not what brings joy or satisfaction to my life. That comes more from serving others.
As Christmas nears, I can’t help but think about Christ and all He did to serve us. I am reminded of the miracle of His birth and how everything He did was with the intent of blessing others. Nothing was done for selfish gain. He is the example in my life.
While I’m sure it would be fun to give away gifts through this column, like popular daytime talk show hosts do on their shows, I think a better present would be to encourage you to try to live outside your box and consider others more important than yourself.
My family has chosen to do that by going on mission trips, getting involved in community events, locally and globally, and doing other things that keep us from thinking about ourselves all the time. It’s difficult at best but with perseverance, recognition of our motivation for things, and a desire to want to change, it’s possible to achieve that goal.
Sometimes the Christmas season puts too much focus on the stuff we’re going to give and receive. It leads to people standing in long lines and being short on patience. It reveals hearts filled with love but bank accounts empty of funds. It encompasses families gathering together as well as breaking apart.
This doesn’t mean I think people should return all the presents they bought. I just want to challenge you to start this Christmas to try and die to self more. Not only will you be blessed, but so will those around you. It’s a gift that will last a lifetime.