An odd thing happens around December; a role reversal. The secular stations which are often terrified to speak of “a Higher Power” and never hint towards one true loving intimate God take off their guards, get rid of their chatter, and for a brief week or so provide glorious traditional hymns. On the other hand, you might find for a month or so the station which once was filled with only prayer and praise has moved to pop.
I have come to learn that often the Christian station is thinking of this time of our Savior’s birth as a good time to reach beyond the committed Christians. Their strategy is to minister to the unsaved by inviting them in with familiar, often secular tunes. So, they provide a mix. All month they play all “Christmas” but not all Christian—you know what I mean…think (and thank) Rudolf.
Recently, it came to my attention that one of my favorite Christian radio hosts was under attack for the “Christmas “ music. Many of us ran to support him through Facebook and were stumped asking “Who wouldn’t like Christmas music?’ Then we were saddened to understand it was the CHRISTIANS who were down right mean and insensitive in their communication to remove the secular from the holy station. I immediately again defended this wonderful, faithful brother in Christ. His station has literally been my lifeline. Long after the cyber discussion concluded God kept pricking my heart, “Remember her,” He would whisper. “Benefit of the doubt,” He would encourage.
God was reminding me of a lonely Christmas I experienced two years ago. It was Thanksgiving weekend and I was beginning my commute home from my third job. In my head I was praising God for the donated turkey from our church that I needed to thaw, wondering if my estranged husband would appear for the holiday feast. I was missing his embrace and our once happy marriage. Yet, I felt relief for the reprieve from his abuses. My eyes were focused on the road as I blazed the trail home to my three fantastic children knowing they were eager to see me and I consumed with the need to hug them. “I have barely started my shopping” the radio host says in a stressed, you-are-supposed-to-feel-sorry-for-me voice. I reach down and turn the station. “Who changed the dial?“ I think to myself, knowing this couldn’t be my Christian station. I hit a few buttons, some up, some down—eyes mostly on the road— and land on “Blessed Be Thy Name” as the tension in my neck relaxes into the glory of God’s grace. Then it starts again, “My tree needs more ornaments.” I think I am in a bad dream. Who has hi-jacked my station? Why aren’t we giving thanks? Why are we focused on materialism of Christmas ever, especially in NOVEMBER? I mute the volume and thank God for the quiet time to just speak with Him.
As the week progresses, this routine happens again and again. They keep talking about tree lights, shopping, lists, presents, even Santa. Don’t they know my children are listening? How do I prepare my kids for the no presents they will receive this year and prop up how unimportant the consumerism is when that is what they are hearing on the “safe haven” radio station we had all come to love all year?
I feel abandoned. I am alone. I had been alone. No help, no husband, no supportive church (remember churches like "good girls" and happy couples, not to be reminded that denied mental illness often leads to abuse and violence...but I digress). I am alone with just praise, just the radio. I thank God for the incredible music and uplifting I had found over the past 8 months. Then I grieve. Why does it have to leave me now? For the following month I turn off the radio. I bring CD’s. Like a discarded wife of a cheating husband I “peek” at my station from time to time to hear if things have changed, hoping my frustration was only in my head. I miss their prayer, their spirit… Repeatedly, I tune in but I can’t last for more than 5-10 minutes because the hosts revert to jingle bells or worse, bustle and materialism, not peace and praise…so I retaliate with “Silent Night” popping in the CD.
That Christmas God was indeed faithful. In a time when all little children were told “good kids will find presents under the tree” I had none to give. Neighbors I barely knew bought, wrapped, and delivered (secretively) warm coats, toys, and fabulous food. Today when my 1st grader inquires about “believing in Santa” I pronounce my honest commitment, “I believe!”
I share this story because I want to speak to three of you. First, if you are “her/him,” the parent holding it together, I love you. I know you. Much more importantly, God loves you and knows you. Hang on. The dedication you are showing to prioritize family and faith are instilling far greater gifts in your family than anything sold at Wal-Mart.
Second, if you are the radio host, thank you! I LOVE your work. I love your heart. I am thankful for your service to our Lord. Please forgive those who have been cruel. And, I ask you for a favor. Would you consider creating a brief auditory sanctuary? Please recognize that this time of year IS an outreach. Go for it! Yet, please note that dedicated followers may need a refuge, a time of knowing Jesus is the nucleus. Maybe a scheduled hour of the day or day of the week can be “Holy Hymns Hour” or “Son-day?” Make a special invitation so we can meet you and God “there” for purity of praise, pardon, and prayer.
Thirdly, if you are the listener against secular music I ask you NOT to be mean. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you are truly caring about our Lord and Savior and you do not want to water down His message. Nevertheless, be kind, please. Be kind to all people all the time. But especially be kind to the dedicated servants who choose ministry. My personal request is that you redirect your energy. Where you had been angry and aggressive to the radio host, be generous and giving to the parent in need. You can turn the capitalism of Christmas into a caring moment with Christ.
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