Christmas break marks the end of classes, busy schedules, papers, and exams. Unfortunately though for many, myself included, it can also mean a month-long break from ministry, community, and even personal time spent with God. I’ve often found that even with good intentions of going home for physical and spiritual rest, I am prone to falling into a state of apathy while separated from community for a month. This being said, here are some things that I have found helpful to keep in mind before I make the journey home to the exotic Toledo, Ohio for the holidays.
Don’t walk through break alone. In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis writes that friendship “exhibits a glorious ‘nearness by resemblance’ to Heaven itself” when people in community work to truly understand each other, and help one another understand God. If break is hard- if the holidays are painful, if you find yourself slipping into old habits or spiritual dryness, if you find yourself struggling to understand the powerful love and grace of God- reach out. Encourage, and be encouraged by a community who wants to point you towards God’s love.
Sometimes, accepting love can feel attention- seeking and awkward, but it is so worth it. In my experience, there is not one small group leader or friend who I have reached out to in a time of pain or spiritual dryness who has failed to meet me in my brokenness and speak truth into my life. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.” Break is no exception for this call to walk towards Christ in community; encouragement to and from housemates, friends or a small group leader is only a text away.
This verse can also be a good example of how to be in community with our families over break. I have both older and younger sisters, and I’ve found over the years that “stirring up love and good works” is not always the go- to method of behavior between siblings. I’ve also found that talking about how God is changing my life to my family, and treating them in a way that displays the Gospel can be incredibly healing.
In Blue Like Jazz, Don Miller wrote a short story about Don Rabbit and Sexy Carrot. Don Rabbit fixated himself on Sexy Carrot and would not rest until Sexy Carrot was his. Eventually, he choked and died on this carrot. This was Don Miller’s completely weird way of telling us that sometimes, the things we desire most can hurt us. Break is an easy time to party with high school friends, binge watch all nine seasons of The Office, and eat away the stress of the semester. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul tells us that an action can be permissible without being beneficial. When we throw all of our attention to ordinary things, we tend to forget about what need the most: God.
So how do we fight the apathy and emptiness that comes with cramming Netflix into a God- shaped hole in our lives? Recognition is a good start. When I catch myself looking to activities, objects, or people for joy and satisfaction instead of God, my need for Him becomes painfully obvious. I have found in those moments that prayer, reading, and reaching out to community can pull me out of a state of apathy, and draw me closer to Him.
IndyCC is arguably the best way to battle spiritual dryness over break. It a time that is filled with an incredible community of believers who are setting aside time to learn about God, and grow towards Him together. It is a time of worship, talks, sharing with the Indianapolis community, and spiritual rest. If you are thinking of going for the first time, you can expect to learn from incredible speakers (including our own Bacho Bordjadze), and optional sessions ranging from what it looks like to follow Christ as an artist, to Aaron Badenhop’s seminar on church history. There is a 90s themed dance party, a worship session to bring in the New Year, and plenty of free time to spend with friends. I’ve seen God use the talks and community at the conference to change my life in ways I did not think were possible. It is easy to think of excuse after excuse not to go, but I challenge you to take a step of faith and register if you haven’t already.
In the midst of family parties, Michael Bublé’s Christmas album, and presents, it can be easy to lose sight of what we are celebrating. When the materialism and Hallmark aspects of the holidays are stripped away, we are left with something even greater. Our Savior was born! Christmas is the beginning of the greatest redemption story that God has ever written. It is a time to celebrate that God so loved the world, he sent his son, Jesus, to live among us- fully human and fully God. He loves us so much that Jesus lived and died to give us free and perfect grace that we don’t deserve, simply because God wants a personal relationship with us. What if we lived out Christmas with this in mind? As you travel home for the holidays, do so with the knowledge that you are loved more than you can imagine.