Why Does Christmas Feel Like a Punishment?
A member of one of our mastermind groups recently shared something that gave me hope.
“Big A,” he said, “there was a time in my life where Christmas was nothing more than a list of obligations to ensure I couldn’t relax and enjoy life. Even at the end of the year! I’m glad those days are over.”
Personally, I don’t recall feeling that way about Christmas. But there’s no question I’ve felt that way about other things which are meant to bring joy and life.
What’s going on here? What happens to men with families … how do their families become targets of resentment?
Maybe that describes you this Christmas season. Maybe business hasn’t been going so well, or you feel like the majority of interaction with your children is disciplinary.
Maybe you’re beginning to resent a loving and loyal wife. Is that why you got married, had kids and started a business? So you could end up despising the people you love?
Isolation and loneliness are very dangerous to single men, but there are even higher stakes when a man is married, occupied as a father and a businessman … and still feels alone, with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
(Stay with me on this … there’s plenty of light at the end of this tunnel!)
It Goes With the Territory
I’ve been a Christian life coach for many years, in addition to leading online mastermind groups. Men come and go, and the good thing about them is that they’re not very good at hiding their depression, loneliness and despair.
You learn to recognize the language of anxiety, and identify how pride affects us as husbands, fathers and businessmen.
I’ve worn all three of those hats for 40 years … as Farmers Insurance likes to say, “I know a thing or two ‘cause I’ve seen a thing or two!”
What confused me for some time was what men come to believe about themselves and their lives as a result of isolation.
Through participating in mastermind groups as a member, however, coupled with studying God’s Word, I understand this better than I used to.
Proverbs tells us, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Jesus confirmed this when he said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
I used to think this mainly applied to how frequently the believer fulfilled their responsibility to share the Gospel. Now, I realize the Bible’s casting a much wider net.
It’s teaching us a fundamental truth: we all have “recordings” playing in our heads. “Spiritual MP3s,” if you will, that loop over and over again until we press the “stop” button.
You can imagine some of the things an isolated, lonely man - married or not - hears over and over in his internal dialogue!
If you believe as I do, you know this world isn’t just “God and us.” There’s actually an enemy, an adversary, a spiritual force with a voice and an intellect. This guy loves to tell lies.
He also knows if he can get us to believe lies about ourselves, we’ll start believing them about others. If you’re familiar with the saying “How you do anything is how you do everything,” it applies to how you think as well.
Haven’t you’ve felt some of this? A disagreement with your wife gets escalated, and it takes all you’ve got to hold back from screaming profanities.
Your kids make a mess in the kitchen, and you go nuclear on them. They’re just little kids … they can’t fight back!
Your sales numbers keep missing the mark, and you have no answers for it. So you blame your employees, the stock market, oil prices or politicians.
If you’re feeling angry, bitter, resentful or anxious about Christmas, and you’ve entertained negative thoughts toward the people you love … we have our work cut out for us.
Where Darkness Dies
A great pastor once said, “What lives in the darkness dies in the light.”
In the Iron Sharpens Iron Mastermind, we believe this with every fiber of our beings. For us, “the light” means “pulling back the facade and letting others see our junk.”
On a practical level, this means trusting other men enough to bare your soul and say, “This is where I am. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth.”
For the men who gather around you, it becomes their privilege to say, “We meet you where you are. You can’t stay here, but we will stay here in loving confrontation until you’re strong enough to move.”
When you commit to this level of accountability in an online mastermind group, you start making your way to being “on the other side of the aisle” of people reading this article.
You know … the side you currently dismiss as “happy-go-lucky, churchy ‘yes men’ who have it all together?” That’s a load of bull, guys.
You need to know there are mentors and coaches like us who can deal with the awkwardness you feel in asking for help. Allies who won’t turn away or scorn you because you haven’t figured life out on your own.
Swallowing pride and admitting failure is never fun. But you can have your pride, or you can have something far better … like the ability to enjoy Christmas again.
It’s time to ask yourself what you really want.
Is It Christmas Yet?
Do you recall the member I mentioned, who used to feel worse as Christmas rolled around?
By taking the mask off and surrounding himself with a brotherhood, he slowly regained hope and optimism for the holiday season.
He developed a habit of refusing to “fake it ‘til you make it.” He joined one of our mastermind groups online. He became intentional about sharing his deepest faults. He found brothers to help him keep moving forward.
“These days, Big A,” he said, “I get Christmas songs stuck in my head … in July. And I sing them … especially the carols about Jesus.”
In fact, he went on to tell me, if he’s alone in his house and gets the inspiration - he sings them at the top of his lungs.
You can’t put a price on joy like that, and the cost of a master mind group will seem like pennies compared to getting your heart back.
From all of us at View From the Top … may your days be merry and bright.