Depression Under the Tree

This has been the darkest Christmas I have ever experienced -- as many of you already know and are tired of reading and hearing me confess. If you care to understand why then read the brief posts "To Love and Be Loved" and "I Have No Idea What to Name This Post." For 21 years I had been thinking (and sincerely believing) that I did not want a life-long, monogamous, loving (same-gendered) relationship. That all changed two weeks ago when I met someone. I will stop there because the event is very personal to me.

According to Healthline, the holidays can be a very distressing and depressing time of the year for many people, as the same gain an increased sense of loneliness, fear, anxiety and longing for a past that seemed hopeful. Most children in this country are happiest during this season because of what might come: gifts. When we become older, we dream of having someone to love and to share one's life with, and loved ones become very important. For all the complexities of relationships, loving and being loved is worth them all.

For those who have lost their significant other, or for whatever reason remain single, this holiday season is a daily, nightly, and constant reminder of just how lonely one truly is, especially as the person sees loved ones holding hands while shopping at the mall, sharing meals with other couples, as seen on TV and in movies, and sung about in song after song after song on the radio. For someone like myself, who so very much wants to fall (and remain) in love, loneliness and depression during the holidays is utterly loathsome.

Several online resources grant people advice as to how to cope with depression during these seasons. Some of us, however, are stubborn: we refuse to be consoled (cf. Jer. 31:15). Some people experience increased depression because of the shorter days, lack of sun, and colder temperatures. Not me. Last year, during this Christmas time, I was enjoying the season. I actually enjoy Fall and Winter. This year is quite the opposite.

Not only am I enduring my own pain this Christmas, but I am also deeply saddened and troubled by all the turmoil happening in this nation, as well as in other nations around the globe. Fighting, hatred, murder, corruption, hypocrisy, double standards, inequality, bigotry, racism, misogyny, bullying, families and marriages torn apart because of a bitter political climate, the destruction of Aleppo and its people, terror-killings in Berlin, the assassination of a Russian Ambassador -- I find little merry in this Merry Christmas.

What you want at this point is for me to turn toward some dimly-lit ray of hope. "Jesus is the answer for the world today," sang the late Andraé Crouch, and happy peppy evangelicals blithely smile as they wait for the pre-Tribulational rapture to rescue them from this nightmare called Life. Well, the words I wrote in a recent post bear repeating, "I'm in a season at the moment where Christian platitudes are making me angry and bitter." Depression is under the Christmas tree this year for many people and no amount of positive bumper-sticker theology has any semblance of hope for helping the hurting, the lonely, the deeply distraught.

Why in the Name of all that is holy did I write this post? I wrote this post to broaden your mind -- to cause you to think about the pain of others -- to break through your veneer of naïve giddyness so that you can be more biblical in your thinking. St Paul commands us: "Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers." (Rom. 12:9-13) So, we love our own, and we love all others.

He then adds: "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are." (Rom. 12:14-16) There is enough material in these eight verses to keep us on our spiritual toes for years, if we aim to think deeply about his words, and then intend to actually put them into practice. Today, then, join with me in prayer for those who are suffering throughout the entire world during this Christmas season. Above all else, whatever you do in this life, do it out of love.


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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.