My First Christmas Without Jesus

My First Christmas Without Jesus December 31, 2017

Angel of Grief. (c) 2011 Ed Nh (via Flickr)
Angel of Grief. (c) 2011 Ed Nh (via Flickr)

On December 20th, I realized that Deconstruction is a process of losing and grieving foundational beliefs that build and shape us, and that I am in the fourth stage of of that grief: Depression.

The next and final stage is Acceptance, and I’m sure I don’t know how to cope with that yet.

So for now I am just sad and utterly lost.

I am lost in a space of not knowing how to make sense of the world, of pain and suffering, or how to hold hope if there’s nothing Greater to anchor us beyond Now.

Lost in questions that plague me night and day about how to make God and evil and this world and history add up to anything more significant than a pile of depressing years with which we have to do our best for ourselves and each other and our kids, cause no one’s gonna do it for us.

I am sad that for the first time in my life, Christmas wasn’t that big a deal. Celebrating the birth of Jesus didn’t feel significant. Singing “Oh Holy Night” brought me no intrinsic joy, sparked no divine gratitude or transcendent feeling of being part of something bigger.

I am sad that the nation — and world — seem to be crumbling before me, and for the first time in my life, I don’t have an answer. I don’t have a “future hope” to hang on, or a promise that all will be made right in the end. I have no reason to believe that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice when power rests not in a morally good God but in the morally bankrupt powers of this earth.

I am sad because I desperately want to believe in God — the story of Jesus is beautiful and the hope of something better to come is empowering and comforting when it gets Dark.

And because I am a certifiably better person as a believer (I am one of those who derived a deep sense of self and purpose and compassion for others from my beliefs about my Maker and how God created us all to be), I am sad that I cannot always (or even often, these days) bring myself to sit in Denial and just believe. For all my efforts to accept a God, my mind can’t make the math work.

What kind of all-powerful and loving God who is *capable* of stopping wars and saving terrorized children from their tormentor’s weapons…doesn’t? What kind of God would hear and attend to my prayers for personal peace and good-feels, while neglecting the cries of the mother whose child starves to death in Yemen as a direct result of choices I’ve made as an American? If that God exists, don’t I have an obligation to use my audience with it to remind it that there are far greater problems in the world than my unbelief?

And I am sad that acceptance comes after depression — because it means I may be on the cusp of losing (or giving up on) God forever. Of accepting that this thing I orbited my entire life around just…Isn’t. So all my trust that God would reveal purpose or open doors or protect me from enemies or light my path was placed in an empty box.

And I am as unready for the cold loneliness of that space as I am incapable of believing God really is in there.

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