The Christian Artist and Christmas.
This Christmas season has been especially exhausting to me. To say I’m exhausted is an understatement. It’s more like a feeling of being completely depleted. Wrung out. Near collapse. Last night at our church’s Christmas eve service, while singing in the choir, the great weight of this overwhelming exhaustion hit me hard. This unusual feeling startled me so much that I prayed to God to help me get through the evening. I understand and appreciate that this time of year finds many people in this same condition but for me this is a very out of the ordinary feeling. I’m not used to being exhausted. My normal state is one of joy, child-like excitement and creative energy. I have very little patience for those who complain about being “exhausted” and “overwhelmed” as part of their normal conversation. Therefore, so as not be “one of those people”, I’ve spent much of today thinking and praying about how and why I became like this. “Why God?” I’ve been asking, “Why am I feeling so overwhelmingly exhausted?” Yes, I have the normal life events happening, job changes, family illness, a long list of “to dos” but there must be something more going on. And while thinking and praying about my new condition a thought came to me…I’m on sensory and emotional overload. Those family illnesses I mentioned have been more than just a cold or the flu. They are things that have required hospitalization and trips to the doctor. The job changes have turned out to be more than just adding a new responsibility or moving my desk. Adding this to the extra music, decorations, lights, colors, people, food, noise, and hustle bustle of the season can make daily life become overwhelming to even the non-artistic types.
Please let me explain further. As an artist, the added visual and sensory stimulus that comes with the holiday season, combined with the everyday life stressors, can send us completely over the “cliff of exhaustion”. Artists by nature are sensitive and many times overly aware of the visual and auditory beauty that surrounds us during Advent. While we love it, look forward to it and eagerly participate in it, the sheer volume of it can leave us feeling a little out of sorts, uncomfortable and consequently exhausted. As you know, being creative, whether it’s painting, writing or composing, takes a lot of mental and sometimes physical energy. If one combines this with the normal exhaustion that accompanies the Christmas season an artist can begin feeling so overwhelmed that we may even run the risk of temporarily losing our motivation and desire to create.
So how, as Christian artists, do we “heal” from the onslaught of emotional, physical and spiritual exhaustion we call the Christmas season? The answer is simple. We pray, stay in the word, and hold tight in our hearts to the good news that comes with this time of year. On a quiet night, in a quiet town, in a quiet spot our Savior was born. Hold on to this good news. While we are a long way from our eternal home right now, this good news guarantees repentant believers that someday we will be there. Where we can finally enjoy peaceful rest.
Today, the words to an ancient Christmas carol have been on my mind. The lyrics are a prayer of praise, thankfulness and great hope. They are a reminder that right here, right now I can find the a measure of the peaceful rest I need in the promise of Christmas and Emmanuel.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel.
That morns in lonely exile here.
Until the Son of God appears.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel.
O come, Thou Day-Spring come and cheer.
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night.
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel.
O come Desire of Nations.
Bind all Peoples in one heart and mind.
Bid Envy, strife and discord cease. Fill the whole earth with