The Truth About Santa Claus

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I love Christmas.  I have a Christmas tree and stockings and traditions and lights and all that other Christmas-y stuff.  I even have a Santa here and there around the house at this time of year.  I don’t mind that the celebration for Jesus’ birthday has all these things added onto it.  As long as we remember the reason for the season, and as long as that’s not co opted by extraneous negative stuff, it’s okay with me.

However, there’s one Christmas tradition I’ve never taken part in: I’ve never convinced my kids that there is a Jolly Old Elf that magically flies across the sky and brings them presents on Christmas Eve.  I have told them from the beginning that Santa Claus is fiction.  We joke about it, and I call the UPS man Santa Claus since I do most of our Christmas shopping online.  I teach my kids that St. Nicholas of Myra is a historical figure coming from what is now Turkey.  They don’t expect gifts to magically appear under the tree out of thin air.  They know that I do the shopping, and that I have a budget, and they hand their Christmas lists directly to me.

They seem to be surviving just fine, and I see no signs that they’ll be scarred for life. My husband and I were both raised this same way and I think we’re both okay in the mental health department.

But why not indulge the fantasy?  Why not have a little fun and let them believe in something fun and friendly and magical? Why not?

The answer is because at some point all Santa-believing children realize that the magic isn’t real.  Whether it happens when they see Mommy kissing Santa Claus or when they find the presents from Santa hidden away in the closet on December 15, they will have a moment of truth when the fantasy crashes down around them.

You see, I want my kids to trust me.  I want them to believe what I say.  But mainly, I want them to believe me when I tell them that there is a REAL miracle worker.  The story of Jesus, the God of all creation, come to Earth to save my soul, is absolutely true.  My God has power above all others, He really does give good gifts to his children, and He is all places at all times.  I don’t want them to think He is a myth just like Santa or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy.

So at our house the kids write out Christmas lists, hand them to me, stay away from the basement while I’m Christmas shopping online, and wait for the UPS man to bring the Amazon boxes to our front door.  They know I wrap them and they appreciate the gifts and the givers.

Because the true magic of Christmas has nothing to do with a fat man in a red suit.  The true magic of Christmas is that the God of all creation was born a human and gave us the best gift anyone could ever give: the gift of salvation.  And I want my children to believe that forever.

 

 


Oh, For Grace To Trust Him More!

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God loves me. God can do anything. God wants the best for me. These are a few of the beliefs that I hold dear.

So why do I have pain? I don’t mean productive pain: pain that tells me to stop catching my toe against that piece of furniture, or to remove my hand from that hot water. No, I mean the constant, relentless, ever-present pain in my head, an all-day every-day headache. It isn’t telling me to change my behavior. It serves no purpose physiologically. It is simply a headache, literally and physically.

Am I like Job, buffeted by Satan in a cosmic contest between good and evil? Is this some test I just can’t seem to pass? Am I supposed to be learning something? Is this my version of Paul’s “thorn on the flesh” to keep me humble and show God’s strength? Or is it just a result of bad genetics; I’m swimming in the deep end of the gene pool? I really don’t know.

I do believe God still heals. That is not limited to the Bible stories I learned as a child. God could take the pain away. I hear of others who have been healed or see those who have recovered, yet I have not. So why not me? When is it my turn? Do I lack faith? Is it because of some weakness in me? Have I not yet passed some test?

Can I trust Him? Do I even want to?

The emphatic answer is YES! This IS a God I want to serve. You see, God doesn’t cause the pain. It is there simply because of a broken, messed-up world. Headaches are heavily present on both sides of my family, just as bad eyes and high intelligence and tall stature are. So should I blame God for not interfering? No. If He chooses to not wipe it all away, this must mean He can use it for some good. What is it? I have no idea.

In my experience, there are levels of trust. First is the belief that He will someday take it away and I will serve Him until He does. Though this is an admirable place to be, it is not a terribly deep faith. Second is the knowledge that He may choose to not ever take away the suffering, and though I may not understand why, I will continue to live my life for Him, following his Word as well as I can. I will keep walking in spite of the trauma occurring in my life. I will keep on keeping on. The third level is actually giving God a blank check to use whatever life throws at me to make me a better person: to deepen my faith or enlarge my patience or whatever it is that He can do with it. Accepting, and even embracing the pain, now THAT is a difficult spot to reach. To trust that the dark threads on the weaver’s loom make the tapestry more beautiful, give perspective otherwise lacking, that is the thing hardest to accept.

This world is filled with sorrow, heartbreak, sickness, abuse. The amazing thing about my God is not that He makes all things perfect. The truly amazing thing is that He alone can take rotten things and make good come from them. Oh sure, they’re still rotten, but they can produce good anyway. Sometimes I can anticipate what the good will be, but often, even usually, I can’t see it until years later, or sometimes not at all.

One day, our journey will be complete; our race will be done. Until then we will have trouble. Sure, there are laughs, friends, and good times. But right alongside all of that will be sorrow, heartbreak, and pain. It’s a day-by-day choice, sometimes even a minute-by-minute one, what we will do with our sorrows.

As for me, this is my theme song:

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus
Oh, for grace to trust Him more