December Blues

More people feel down and out in December than any other month. Find out why that is and what you can do to change it.

Transcript

 INTRODUCTION

Morning.  David Sorn.  Lead pastor here at Renovation Church.

December is an interesting month. 

Everyone puts out decorations that say “JOY,” we wish each other Merry Christmas, and we share that it’s the “most wonderful time of the year!”

But what if it’s not?

What if…while everyone else reveling in holiday cheer, you just feel like spiking your own eggnog?

It’s a fascinating hallmark of the Christmas season.

While we should all “be of good cheer,” depression or just a general feeling of “the blues” is always on the rise in December

All month, in our “Long December” series, we’re covering the different ways so many of us can lose our way in December.

And for a lot of people, their way is not lost in the abundance of Christmas baking and parties, but in the despair of having to attend those parties and eat your subpar cookies (and pretend that they like them)

Or, maybe it’s not being invited to any Christmas parties.

There are a lot of reasons for why people get the “December Blues,” and we’re going to cover 3 of them today, and share a way to begin to find hope, and walk out of the blues.

Now, what I’m going to talk about today probably should be differentiated from an extended bout with depression.

If you’ve been feeling depressed for a number of months now, it’s time to reach out for help.

Meet with someone…find a good counselor even.

Some of these answers won’t be enough for you.

But for a lot of us, these answers are a great start to dealing with the abundance of extra weighty emotions we often feel in December.

 

 

I’M ALONE (He came for you)

Before we go any further, let me also say, “If you’re sitting here this morning, and while listening, you DON’T feel like you have the December Blues this year, I want you to process through how you can help the people who do have blues this year.   

Come up with some actual ways you can be the light of Christ to someone who feels like the light has gone out this Christmas

All right…let’s look at the first of the 3 most common reasons people get the December Blues.

The first one is this:

#1:  I’m Alone 

The Christmas season has a way of exacerbating our feelings of loneliness.

In some ways, it’s ironic because we tend to see more people in the month of December than we do any other month

But that doesn’t change how we feel.

You can be in a room full of people and still feel lonely.

It’s similar to how a celebrity can have thousands of people screaming their name, but feel like the loneliest person on earth.   

Loneliness is not measured by the number of people you know or who know you, but rather by how many people you’re actually connecting with

And so you can go over to Aunt Ethel’s this week for your huge extended family gathering…and rather than feeling like you’ve connected, you might feel lonelier than ever. 

Because we feel like we should be CONNECTING, and yet there’s often this realization that these people are my family, and yet, I feel like I don’t even really know them.

And that can bring sadness. 

It can bring the December blues

For others, loneliness comes in a more standard package.

Maybe for you Christmas is hard because you don’t have anywhere to go.

Your family all lives out of town…

Or you don’t have a family anymore

Or your disconnected from your family.

Or maybe, all of your friends are talking about what they’re doing for their kids this Christmas and you just wish you could have kids in the first place.

December has a way of bringing out our blues more than almost any other month. 

SO what do you do?

What do you do when you’re feeling the loneliness that’s almost certain to come this month?

What I want you to get in the habit of doing is this:

When December has you down, look up.

Don’t look down at your own story, but UP at his story.

What is the story of Christmas?

Let’s take a look

(Page 783)

(Renovation App)

 (Matthew 1:18-23) – NIV

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[d]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[e] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[g] (which means “God with us”).

We know God’s son by the name of Jesus (which means He saves), but he was also to be called Immanuel, which means GOD WITH US. 

It’s why we sing, “O come O come Emmanuel.” 

Life is absolutely and fundamentally different for the Christian than the non-believer.

We know, that God not only came to earth as a baby, but He is with us today.

So when December has you down, look up.

Look up at a different story

So it’s not, “I’m Alone”

The reality is:

#1 I’m Alone à He’s with me

You’re not alone, you don’t have to be alone.

God himself came for you as a baby.

So He could save you from your sins, and so you could always be together.

Listen, there is SO MUCH of life you can not control.

Friends in your life will come and go           

Co-workers, neighbors, and even best friends forever sometimes don’t stick around forever.

Even family members can get sick and pass on. 

But you will ALWAYS, ALWAYS have Jesus.

When December gets you down, look up.

When you’re hurting about being alone, He’s sitting the in the chair across from you…holding out his hand. 

You’re never alone.

He’s with you. 

 

 

MY FAMILY GATHERINGS ARE PAINFUL (He’s given me a second family)

Unfortunately, loneliness isn’t the always reason so many of us get the December blues

There’s another massive reason: Your family.

#1 I’m Alone à He’s with me

#2 My Family Gatherings are Painful

And for many of you, unfortunately you have to see your family at Christmas. J

There’s a reason people aren’t as depressed in September.

Who actually gets together with their family in September?

Family has a way of pushing our buttons don’t they?

I swear, my friends can be SO sarcastic with me.

In a meeting with our House Leaders last week, I said something like, “Guys, I feel like this is one of the things that might make me good at being a pastor”

And one of my friends said, “Since when have you been a good pastor?”

And we all burst out laughing…just joking together.

But yet, if my family member made the same joke, I might respond, “I knew you never believed in me!”  J

Our families can drive us crazy.

And by the end of this month, for some of you, one of your praise reports on the prayer list is that you don’t have to see your family again until Thanksgiving.

But it’s not just that…many of us have one particular family member who can spiral us into an abyss of December Blues with just one comment.

The family member who always brings up his annoying political beliefs to get everyone going.

Or the family member who approaches you and says, “So, still no boyfriend?”

A few of you in here actually have calm family Christmas parties. 

Good for you.

For the rest of us, we call it a success if no one gets mad and leaves in the middle of the party. J

And for still others the pain comes in who’s not there this year.

Maybe someone’s spouse isn’t there because of a new divorce.

Or their kids aren’t there because they went with the other parent this year. 

That’s painful.

Or maybe even harder still, maybe a loved one has died in the last year.

Those first few holidays after a death of a family member can be incredibly hard.

It’s hard to know what to do when she’s not there anymore.

Who’s supposed to hand out presents now?

Who’s supposed to make her famous dessert?

And it’s hard because you’re supposed to be happy at Christmas, but you feel sad…

And if you do feel happy, but you feel bad, because you’re supposed to feel sad

And all of these emotions…can give us the December blues.

It’s a hard month isn’t it?!

But don’t just look down at your own life, look up.

See his story.

See the big picture…the eternal picture.  

Now, as a preface, let me say this:

Having Jesus be a part of your family is the best possible thing for your family.

He teaches and enables us to forgive…to have patience…to heal from our pain.

But interestingly enough, I believe that HIS story…is even bigger than that.

When Jesus comes at Christmas, the Bible says that he comes to start a new family.

The family of God.

(John 1:12) – NIV

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

 

(Ephesians 2:19-20) – NIV

 19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.

Everything changed when Jesus came.

Every believer is now united together, in Him, in his family

The New Testament talks constantly about us being brothers and sisters in Christ. 

So yes, the fact that Jesus is real and is changing your life can and SHOULD change the real family you live in, but the deep truth is that believers in Jesus Christ are your family too.

Interestingly enough, when the Bible speaks of our afterlife, it tends to downplay earthly relationships like marriage, and holds up relationships like this (the family of God worshipping together) 

So if your family gatherings feel painful, and they don’t feel like they’re going to get fixed in the next 5 days…remember, through your faith in Jesus, you’re graciously been placed in now TWO families. 

And there’s now another family who can care for you.

So when December has you down, look up.

Look at a new story.

#1 I’m Alone à He’s with me

#2 My Family Gatherings are Painful à He’s Given Me a Second Family

When December has you down, look up.

As a matter fact, look around.

There are people all over this room that want to help you through it.

There are people all over this room that are an answer to the loneliness we mentioned too

I want to show you a couple of pictures:

These are pictures from this past week from 2 of our 6 House Group Christmas parties

(House Group Party #1)

 (House Group Party #2)  - keep this up for a while

Do you see these people in our House Groups?

They’re a family.

For many of you in here, you know this. 

These people are your family. 

Besides God’s willingness to let us reach so many new people for Christ, this is the great strength of this church.

Our community.

Renovation isn’t yet another church where you can be lost in a sea of faces

And it isn’t another church of 300 where everyone knows your “name,” but they don’t really know you. 

These are families  

My wife and I are in one of our original house groups. 

There are a number of us in that group that have been together for six years now.

SIX YEARS!

It’s family.

And see, when Jesus comes at Christmas, he adds another family to your life…if you’re a believer.

I pray that He does miracles and works mightily in your personal family, but if it’s not in his timing, or his will, then know that He’s offering you another family.

If you’re in a house group, take advantage of that family.

Lean on them this month.

If you’re not in a House Group yet, we want you to join one of our families.  

Some of you need to go sign-up for a House Group in the hallway before you leave…or on your app.

Second semester starts the first week of January.

Some of these people have been together for 6 years, some for 6 weeks.

And we add people every week…that’s what the family of God does.

And this is a church that wants to be here for you through your blues…whenever they may come.

That’s what a good family does.

So look up…look around

You’re not alone…and you’ve got another family.

 

 

I’ll NEVER MEASURE UP (He came anyway) 

I wish that was it for the reasons for why people get December Blues

But there is another major reason:

For many of us, December, unlike any other month, leaves us feeling like we’ll never measure up.

#1: I’m Alone à He’s with me

#2: My Family Gatherings are Painful à He’s Given Me a Second Family

#3: I’ll Never Measure Up

We talked about this a little bit in the first two weeks of this series:

There is an incredible pressure (from family, society, friends, you name it) to “measure up” with your Christmas activities:

Have the best lights, the best cookies, the best Christmas cards

There’s a pressure to “measure up” and give the best gifts!

And for those of you that are going host any sort of Christmas get-together in the next few days (even if it’s just for your own immediate family)…there’s a pressure to have it go perfectly.

The snacks are going to be perfect!

Everyone will love their present!

Everyone will get along!

And it all be perfect!!!

But of course, it won’t, and by December 26th, you’ll have the blues too.

It’s not just the pressure to be perfect, December makes us feel like we’ll never measure up for other reasons too.

In December, you end up seeing a lot of people that you haven’t seen in an entire year.

And you’re going to get the inevitable question that goes something like, “So what have you been up to lately?”

Which most of us, in our insecurity, read as code for, “Did you finally do something with your life?”

And we get down…because no, we haven’t.  J

And on top of all that, as if the Christmas parties weren’t enough…the final week of December is often the one that makes us the most miserable of all

Many people are left with a social hangover after all the parties and hustle and bustle are over.

While others are still stewing about that big fight with Uncle Jim.

And for others, the world now tells us we must turn our attention to the new year…but before we do, please, please, make us look back.

What did 2015 bring?

Oh that’s right…nothing.

Or, failure.

Or, a breakup. 

And December causes so many of us to look back, and also pile on the pain of November, October, September, and the rest of the calendar year as well.

And we get to the 31st, and now, that you feel all bad about yourself…now I’m supposed to come up with a resolution (in my own strength) to make it all better.

Which rarely works either. 

And we feel…like we’ll never measure up!

It’s a long December…and hard one too.

But instead of continuing to look down, look up.

Look not just at your own story, but at His too.

(Romans 5:6-8) – NIV

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

This is one of the greatest truths for humankind. 

Yet, it’s one that you can’t really see when you’re only looking at your own story…or even everyone else’s

God decided to send Jesus on that mission to earth…before you “measured up”

Because on our own, we don’t measure up.

And yet…he came anyway

#1: I’m Alone à He’s with me

#2: My Family Gatherings are Painful à He’s Given Me a Second Family

#3: I’ll Never Measure Up à He came anyway

But see, if you live with your head down…

constantly trying to have the perfect Christmas 

trying to live the perfect life and finally make something of yourself so you can tell your whole family about it next Christmas

You’re just going to get the blues every single year.

There is no off ramp on the performance treadmill

Look up!

So you messed up.

He loves you.

So you REALLY messed up.

He loves you.

Let him help you make it right.

You’re never going to measure up to some “perfect standard”…so stop trying so hard. 

The only way we measure up, is by our faith in Him.

When we believe in Him, He covers the gap our sin has created, and allows us to be forgiven and made right in His eyes. 

He’s the one that changes us!

But on your own, you’re not going to be perfect.

Only He is perfect. 

So stop trying so hard.

Put your focus elsewhere.

Focus more on falling in love with this amazing God this Christmas than trying to make people fall in love with how perfect you are

Focus on just having time together with your family this Christmas (talking about the birth of Jesus) rather than the most complex Christmas itinerary the world has ever seen.

Look up.

Look up to the things that really matter.

And if you look up, and you see His story…

That He’s with you. 

He gave you a second family

He came at Christmas knowing you’d never measure up anyway

He just loves you!

Rest in that this December.

Rest in his amazing truths for you…

And if you do, I believe he can help pick your head up, and make this Christmas different.

Let’s pray.


Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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