I spent too much. I ate too much. I didn’t get what I wanted. I talked too much. My gifts weren’t appreciated.
If you recently celebrated Christmas, you might have one–or more–of these regrets. Maybe you have others. How does one get over after-Christmas disappointment?
My regrets in Christmases past include, over-indulging on tasty treats, giving too many gifts to our kids, and failing to be generous with people who needed a helping hand.
How can such a cherished holiday leave us with a bitter taste?
Disappointment in Bethlehem
It happened in Bethlehem.
They were visited by worshiping shepherds and gift-giving magi.
The long-promised Son of God, the Prince of Peace had arrived!
Angels sang, “Peace on earth! ”
A murderous king Herod ordered the slaughter of innocent children in his pursuit of the newborn King. Instead of returning to their home in Nazareth, Mary and Joseph fled to protect baby Jesus.
Joy to the world? Yes!
But life’s high points are often followed by seasons of disillusionment, marked by disappointment, self-doubt, or regret.
The intensity of our disillusionment varies with the surrounding circumstances. But, however deep or shallow our despair, when we step, slip, or fall from he mountaintop, God stands with us, to walk with us, lift us up, or carry us. If we persevere in prayer and pursue a better understanding of our needs and God’s solutions, we can regain our footing, calibrate our compass, locate our position on the map, and start up the next mountain.
This pattern of peaks and valleys repeats itself in many Bible stories. We see it in the story of the Garden of Eden and the fall. We see it in the birth of Abraham and Sarah’s promised Isaac, and the exile of Ishmael. It happened to Joseph when his brothers’ betrayed him after he received his multicolored coat. It happened in Bethlehem. It happened to Jesus’ followers after His crucifixion and ascent to His Father. In each of these stories, where one path ended, another began, leading to another peak, often with greater vistas than the previous one. And while each new peak is a gateway to another valley, there is a promise that once we pass through our final valley of shadows, those who follow God will stand in the eternal light of Mount Zion (Hebrews 12:22).
So, while any joy we felt before Christmas may be gone, we stand at a fork in the road.
We may have spent too much, ate too much, failed to find our most-wanted gifts. Maybe we talked too much and offended someone. Perhaps our gifts weren’t welcomed.
Will we dwell in the shadows of the valley or look for the path to the next peak?
This is always the choice–to let the seed of hope whither and die, or cultivate new growth that can bud and bloom into a more abundant life.