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Growing up I was ambivalent about Christmas morning. My parents did not shower me with gifts but they did get me a few presents and I knew that a few of these would be things I had specifically asked for. I could barely wait to rip open the packages when the anticipation was finally over. When all my gifts were opened, I was able to survey my newfound bounty. And then the strange almost melancholy feeling hit “is this it?” “Is there no more for me to open?”  It was almost anticlimactic and frustrating. Every year I imagined that opening my presents would bring me satisfaction but it never did and it never does. My pastor made this point in a recent sermon when he challenged us to remember what we received for Christmas the previous year.  I, along with most, could not.  So as the years have gone by, I hear the innocent question, “what do you want for Christmas?” as somewhat of a cruel tease. What is wrong with me? Am I just lacking the Christmas spirit?

During a recent Monday worship at Biblical. I was reminded again of that famous quote by C.S. Lewis “If I find a desire within me that cannot be satisfied in this world, the most logical explanation is that I was made for a different world”.  I find great comfort in this quote.  I am not abnormal just because I continue to want more and am never satisfied.  We have a longing within us that will never quite be satisfied on this Earth. Of course the uncomfortable implication of this is that we will feel an insatiable hunger and thirst at some level for the remainder of our lives. Sometimes the ache will be acute; other times it will fade but it will never go away.  Oddly, there is a part of me that is growing to value that hunger and thirst. It means there is more.  What a nightmare if this world and this life is all there is.  This is what Christmas really means to me – the beginning of the end of sin, abuse, cancer and death and the beginning of true life as it was meant to be lived, in Christ.  

So what of the gifts I will give and receive in a few days? Well, as long as I don’t expect them to satisfy my deepest desires, I hope can enjoy them.  At the end of the semester, my students graced me with some Moose Tracks ice cream, my favorite. Along with the creamy treat came the warning, “This will not fill the hole in your soul, but we hope you enjoy it.”  Amen.

Bryan Maier, Psy. D.  is an Associate Professor of Counseling & Psychology in the Masters of Arts in Counseling Program at Biblical. He maintains a private practice at Diane Langberg & Associates.

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