Depression often results from a faulty perspective – when we focus too much on ourselves.

The holidays are considered a time of love and good will towards men. While Christmas is a season of giving, the commercialism of the holidays, however, can tend to perpetuate a focus on ourselves. Advertisements encourage us to make lists of all those items we want. Ads beckon our attention to those things that we “have to have” and supposedly “cannot live without” to be successful or feel complete as a person.  Ads even cater to that part of our esteem fed by the reactions of others in response to the gifts we give. For example, I heard a radio advertisement this weekend for a well-known store. The emphasis of the ad was on how that store would be “the place to go” to secure the “perfect” gift. That’s not an uncommon marketing message this time of year. They went so far as to say, however, that if you didn’t buy your gifts from their store, your gifts would not measure up to all the other gifts your family and friends would receive AND you would not be a worthy giver. Seriously?

The scriptures give us a different perspective about giving: “Each one of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. You should not give if it makes you unhappy or if you feel forced to give. God loves those who are happy to give” (2 Corinthians 9:7 ERV). In a previous post in this series, we looked at how expectations can contribute to depression.  God’s word invites us to give of our own volition, not out of expectation or coercion, but because it brings us happiness and we want to show our love.

The holidays may find you with few financial resources available with which to purchase gifts. Yet don’t discount the value of the precious gift of time, companionship, an act of service, a gentle touch, or an encouraging word.  Sometimes the most appreciated gifts are not those that cost a lot of money, but are those that can only be experienced within the heart.  So this year, if you are feeling down during the holidays, perhaps because of financial setbacks or unfortunate circumstances, be gentle and extend grace to yourself.  Release yourself from the tyranny of commercialism’s message, and seek instead to see who you can bless by your words, your time, and your presence.  You will likely see that you end up being encouraged as well.