Christmas is my favorite time of year. Lights everywhere you look, jazzy Christmas music filling the air, hot cocoa to drink, Christmas concerts to attend, pine trees standing tall in every home. In fact, I love Christmas so much that I’ve been listening to Christmas music since October!
But at Christmastime, every lyric of every pop song either sings the praise of that special someone, or laments their absence. The Hallmark channel is flooded with cheesy Christmas romances every night of the week. So the season also presents its own unique challenges.
The over-romanticized songs and movies of the season can lead down a path of discontentment.
With so many forms of entertainment saturated with romance, it’s no wonder that so many people struggle with loneliness and depression at this time of year. The single girl can be reminded of her desperation to have a boyfriend. But those who are in a relationship aren’t always happy either. The perfection of every movie romance reminds them of their dissatisfactions with their current relationship.
At Christmastime especially, I can find myself dreaming about what it would be like to have that special someone. We all have a desire to be loved, and this desire can show up even more at this time of year. We like to indulge this desire by filling our time with over-romanticized forms of entertainment.
But binging on cheesy Hallmark Christmas romances and jamming out to Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You can make this desire more intense.
There are three kinds of love.
In the ancient Greek language (the original language of the New Testament), there were three common ways to say the word “love.” Each of these words talks about a specific kind of love. The first kind of love is phileo. This refers to a brotherly kind of affection, similar to what you feel for a friend. The second kind is eros. It is driven by passion for another person. The third word for love was agapé. This love is self-giving and is unconditional.
When we fall into the temptation to think we have to have a special someone after watching our favorite Christmas romances, the kind of love we crave and think we need is eros. We have this all-consuming longing to be filled with passion for another person and for them to reciprocate this passion.
But the interesting thing about eros is that it can actually be self-seeking. Someone who is filled with eros loves another person simply because that person makes them feel happy. This kind of love is inward focused. Even though eros is a natural part of romantic relationships, and isn’t a bad thing, it won’t leave us satisfied because of its self-focused nature. There has to be a deeper kind of love that accompanies it.
In contrast, agapé love is self-giving. It is others-focused and isn’t conditional on what another person can bring to the table. Agapé love delights in giving. Because of our sinful nature, we as humans will never be completely capable of this kind of self-sacrificing love. We can’t even fully comprehend a love that isn’t conditional on what we do. But God freely lavishes this kind of love on us.
Only our Savior can fulfill our desire for love.
I know I’ve already found myself in this dangerous place of discontentment and romanticizing the idea that a special someone is what I really need this holiday season. Maybe you find yourself in a similar place.
Think about this: Jesus, to whom all honor and power belongs, left His rightful throne in glory and was born of a virgin so that He could live a sinless life and die for the sins of His children. How amazing is that?!
I think we tend to take this story for granted. We hear it all the time during this season and can practically recite Luke 2 by heart. But this is the greatest love story to ever be written, and it actually happened!
When I stop to think about just how much Jesus sacrificed when He left His Father’s side in heaven to be born on earth and laid in a manger, it boggles my mind. This is a kind of love that I can’t comprehend. This kind of love is completely self-giving. This is agapé love.
Ephesians 5:2 says, “Therefore…walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Jesus Christ demonstrated His agapé love as He was born on earth and one day died on the cross to save His children from their sins.
If we take the time to ponder the gravity of Jesus’ agapé love that is lavished on us, our cheesy Christmas romances pale in comparison. If we begin to understand our Savior’s love for us, it diminishes our desire for a special Christmas someone.
I’m not saying that it’s bad to have a crush. That’s a natural part of being a girl. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to watch romance movies. They’re a fun source of holiday entertainment. So as we kick off the holiday season, you’d better believe that I’ll be watching lots of Hallmark Christmas movies! But my prayer for the season is that He will quiet the longings of my heart and your heart with His agapé love.