Feeling Unlovable? Struggling with Low Self-Esteem? That's Where the Christmas Story Comes In...
It can be tempting to pretend to be somebody we’re not.
And it can be tempting to think that who or what we are is not all that great.
I think this temptation, this longing to be somebody else—more beautiful, more successful, more admired, whatever—seductively calls to all of us, and I think the story of Christmas provides the necessary antidote to such toxicity.
For me, the Christmas story is kind of like Pink telling her boyish looking daughter that she is gorgeous and does not need to change a thing to try and match some sort of external ideal.
Because one of the truths of The Christmas story is that it tells us that the beautiful people are not closer to God, that the more successful and wealthy people are not more blessed by God, and that there isn’t one particular religion that has it right to the exclusion of all others.
I mean, think about it…
If the Christmas story involved:
- a baby being born in a palace (instead of a stone cold cave)
- three high priests of Israel adorning the newborn (instead of stargazers from the east)
- an announcement to wealthy merchants or landowners (instead of smelly shepherds)
then it could be told and retold as a story that privileges the privileged
It becomes just one more story of blessing to the already blessed.
In other words, if the story featured all the predictable cast of characters—the Hollywood elite, the 1%, the powerful and the winners—then it would perpetuate the belief that you had to be somebody special to really matter.
It’s like the difference between Beyonce telling you to just be yourself, and Pink saying it.
Beyonce is like the epitome, the capital “I” Ideal, of what beauty is. And when the Ideal says, “don’t worry about being the Ideal,” it lands just a little differently than when someone who is outside or different from the Ideal says it.
That’s why the Christmas story in the gospels is so impactful. Because it undermines the way the world tends to favor the powerful and the wealthy.
The Christmas story, like Pink, calls us to see and claim our own inherent beauty. It reminds us that we don’t have to put on airs to be like someone else. We don’t have to pretend or change who we are to meet the world’s standards for what success or health or happiness looks like.
Because in spite of what ceramic nativity scenes or hand painted Christmas cards might suggest, there is nothing glamorous about childbirth. There is nothing glamorous about a cave with stinky animals or a party with dirty shepherds.
And in many way that is the whole point.
The Christmas story says that you do not have to pretend any longer.
You don’t have to aspire to be someone else.
There is no profession too obscure or unspiritual,
There is no physical form that is unworthy,
There is no creedal requirement for specific ideas or beliefs.
The incarnation is God’s Divine Stamp of approval on humanity just as we are.
Just as YOU are.
It is not God saying, “you are beautiful and worthy in spite of your warts and flaws and shortcomings.”
It is God saying, "you are beautiful and lovable and worthy just as you are, FULL STOP."
Which of course includes all those parts of you that you wish looked like someone else.
At Christmas, God showed up in the lowliest of ways, in the humblest of conditions, to ensure that we really truly get the point: