Have a merry Christmas even if you don't feel like it

Ruth Ann Replogle

It’s a new year.

If you’re like me, you are hoping that 2021 won’t be skating on the fumes of the dumpster fire that was 2020, but rather standing and shining on its own.

You might be cautiously optimistic that the next 12 months will be happier and brighter instead of fearful and dismal like the last 12.

Listening to a sermon on the last Sunday of 2020, it made me wonder if I can push past the demeaning and degrading behavior I tolerated throughout the year.

I will be straight with you. Last year was a bit depressing for me. I won’t elaborate about the details, but I will say there were moments I questioned my own existence.

As I’ve shared before, I endured varying degrees of bullying in junior high. I never imagined I would experience that as an adult, but I did throughout 2020. It was unreal.

Sometimes it was extremely overt, and sometimes it was super subtle. Either way, it made me feel the lowest of the low.

It’s hard to be positive when others make statements (verbally or physically) that destroy thoughts and plans you had. It’s hard to have hope when you’re discouraged. It’s hard to look up when you’re down.

I felt myself withdrawing and becoming someone I didn’t want to be.

Who am I?

I was reminded of a column I wrote back in September 2008:

“It is time to get real with yourself and believe you are who God says you are.”

Beth Moore devotes an entire week to this concept in her Bible study, “Believing God.” The main passage she bases this concept on is Ephesians 1:3-8. Moore pulls out seven key words from this passage — blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, forgiven, and most notably, loved.

Let me rephrase what I have come to understand from this.

I am who God says I am. Nobody can change that, no one can take away what Moore has highlighted, for I am abundantly blessed by God. I was specifically chosen by Him and He adopted me. I am freely accepted by God; it doesn’t matter if the world doesn’t take me as I am. I am redeemed and forgiven through what Jesus Christ did for me on the cross. And most of all, I am loved by the One who matters most, and therefore, I am liberated to be me.

… Ephesians 3:17-19 sums up how we can be satisfied with who we are in relationship to God’s satisfaction with us: “… I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

The same God whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) left His throne in heaven and came to earth to dwell among us and save us.

It’s not what I do or what others do to me … it’s about what Christ did for me. By His grace (the price He paid on the cross) I am saved. Nothing that I do or say — nothing that others do or say — will change that.

God doesn’t change. He is the same in yesteryear as He is in future years.

Be encouraged as I was. And see to it that you don’t let hateful behavior, snide comments, or any rhetoric that isn’t rooted in Christ blind or deceive you. (Colossians 2:9-10)

My new mantra for 2021 is from The Crabb Family’s latest album called “If God Is For Me.” The song talks about feeling forsaken or people implying that you won’t make it, but then relays the truth that He’s never failed us and He never will.

“If God is for me, who can stand against me/No weapon shall prosper when God’s on my side/If it’s just me and Jesus, I can’t be defeated/When my God is with me, I’ve got the victory every time.”

There is hope with Him. So we can leave the discouragements of 2020 behind and move into 2021 ready to live and love life.

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Replogle is a freelance writer who provides columns for the Enid News & Eagle. Her devotional can be found at Ruth’s Christian Bookstore in Enid. Follow her at Facebook.com/JustHoldOnRR.

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