Christmas is a religious and cultural event. For Christians, December 25 represents the historic birth of Jesus Christ who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. For the sole reason of who Jesus is (the living Son of God) and for what He did (died on a cross so that sinners can be saved and reconciled to God,) Christmas is perhaps the most sacred holiday apart from Easter.
Though it is true that Christmas cannot be traced to one particular day, presently it is celebrated world-wide in recognition of our Savior on December 25. According to one website, this recognition isn’t without its controversy. But despite this fact, Christmas does represent the reality that God came to meet mankind as fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” It is through the Hebrew language where Immanuel is defined as “God with us.”
As exciting as this occasion is for many Christians, the fact that God is indeed with us doesn’t always translate into a joyous season for others. God is certainly on the hearts and minds of all Christians, but for some, Christmas can bring a sense of sorrow and depression. There are many reasons for this, of course, but certain events in life can bring a flood of memories and feelings that open wounds and overwhelm these, the most vulnerable of society during the holiday season.
What are some of the events or circumstances that can cause so much grief and sorrow for these people? It’s difficult to narrow down such a list and put into a box, but in an attempt to put this into context, here are a select few:
- Expectations are too high (past failures are highlighted)
- Family, friends, and relatives disappoint;
- Family members have been lost within the previous year;
- Children have left home and have left an empty nest;
- Loneliness and isolation;
- Traffic and crowds become overwhelming;
- Too much focus on gifts and material possessions divert attention from the real purpose behind Christmas.
In a twist of irony, at a time when Christians and non-Christians alike are celebrating Christmas (albeit for different reasons,) those who succumb to depression are viewed as irrational. Christmas is supposed to be a festive time of year and Christians have the most to celebrate! Google “why is Christmas depressing,” one can get the sense of the overwhelming nature of this phenomenon. According to one blogger, yyyap at Around the Fire, the heart of the “Holiday Blues” can be “captured” by the following statement: “People are supposed to be happy and glad during the holidays – since I am not, there is something wrong with me that must be fixed or made to disappear.”
At a time when those who are depressed need extra care, those who can recognize the signs should not ignore and turn their backs on these who need help. Conversely, the ones who are experiencing depression during this time should seek help too. If not taken seriously, depression during Christmas, or at any point during the holidays, could turn tragic.
There are steps that can be taken to help those with depression. While society generally would point to a good counselor as the first suggestion, a pastor at a local church should not be ignored when seeking help. Pastors tend to have experience in counseling people while providing a Biblical basis for the steps toward recovery. One should exercise caution while evaluating which pastor to seek counseling however. Pay particular attention to pastors that counsel with an emphasis on Jesus Christ as the source of hope and healing. To get a better understanding of the pastor and his church, ask to review their “Faith and Mission” and “Belief” statements to ensure they’re in line with your faith. In the Des Moines metro area, some pastors and churches that could be considered are as follows:
- Todd Stiles – First Family Church (515-965-8300)
- John Colyer – Evangelical Free Church (515-964-3870)
- Phil Winfield – Grace Church (515-265-0199)
- Bob Deever – Grace West (515-267-9094)
While seeking counseling for depression is generally the best course of action, there are other options to consider as well. In the depressed state, it is not recommended that the person spend too much time alone. The body of Christ is a major resource for all to take advantage of. Reading the Bible, praying, and meditating on God and His ways are all good suggestions that have not only spiritual advantages, but emotional and psychological advantages as well. If reaching out to a pastor for counseling may not be right for some, there are Christian counselors that can help in these situations outside the church setting too. While not everyone can afford to pay for counseling and not all insurance may be accepted or covered, Christian counselors are often an under-used resource in these cases. A few of these counselors are listed as follows:
- Family Legacy Counseling (515-727-1338)
- New Life Counseling (515-964-5003) or (515-225-4006)
- Christian Counseling Center (515-274-1313)
Christmas is a special time. While everyone around Des Moines may be in full-swing for the holidays, it would be disappointing if there were those who were left behind without the proper care and concern for their well-being. If Christians truly want to worship and honor the birth event of their Lord and Savior, what better way than to help those less fortunate in honor of His Name?