Hi. We don’t know each other. But Christmas is on the way, and I wanted to introduce myself. Then again, my name isn’t important. I’m nobody special. I just wanted you to know that I’m thinking about you. I’m even praying for you.
I know you’re going through a hard time. Someone you love died. Maybe someone you once trusted hurt you deeply. Maybe your mother is suffering. Or your children are going through a rough patch.
Your loved one died by suicide. Or maybe it was cancer. Lymphoma. Alcoholism. Heart attack. Old age. Or a car wreck.
Then again, maybe it’s you who is in distress.
Maybe the doctor gave you bad news. Maybe your life is falling apart. Maybe you’re in a godawful state. Maybe you are lying on the floor, weeping, when you accidentally picked up your phone to read this.
Please keep reading. Because you’re the person I’m writing to.
Listen, I know the whole world is happy right now. Everyone is giddy with excitement. People are getting very festive, preparing their houses for Christmas, hanging lights, installing hordes of gaudy yard art.
It’s hard to stomach all this joyousness when you yourself are stuck in agonizing pain. It’s hard to get excited about anything when your life has turned into a big pile of chicken scat.
You are disgruntled and cynical. And you’re not wrong. This is a contradictory and hypocritical time of year.
Everyone talks of love and kindness and benevolence. And yet nobody sees the invisible hurting people. Oh, sure, some folks volunteer to help the homeless and the orphans during the Christmas seasons. But for most people, all this talk of love and munificence is basically just a load of B.S.
I’m sorry, but it’s true. And you know it.
This is the time of year when TV commercials turn into ultra sentimental saccharin. Advertisers promote charity, compassion and love. And yet, you get the impression that they’re just using buzzwords intended to sell you something.
Americans are buying hordes of pricey gifts for children who already have everything they could possibly want. People in your neighborhood are decorating their houses with expensive inflatable Yodas wearing Santa hats. And it all seems like a giant lie.
What’s the freaking point of Christmas? Your mother is dying. Your father is sick. The doctor said you’ll be lucky to make it through the next year. You’re son is addicted to pain pills. Your daughter has melanoma. What’s the point of getting excited? There’s nothing to get excited about.
But you’re wrong.
Because this is the time of year when, even though the deck is stacked against you; even though all hell is breaking loose in your life; even though experts tell you that you’re not going to win the battle; the universe is telling you that you’re not alone.
This is the time of year called Advent. The Latin word “adventus” means the “coming arrival.” It means something great is on its way. Something really freaking wonderful.
So forget the feckless holiday effluvia peppering your neighborhood. Forget the outdated Elizabeth Taylor fragrance commercials on television. Forget Tickle Me Elmo. Forget Cabbage Patch Dolls and holiday variety shows featuring idiots with tight butts who can’t sing.
This is the time of year when all humanity has a right to get excited because God is coming.
No matter which culture or religious tradition you come from; no matter what you believe or disbelieve; the entire earth, and most people-groups and cultures agree on this holiday. Christmas.
Germany, Poland, Japan, Russia, Norway, China, Spain, Brazil, Finland, India, South Korea. Christmas is celebrated in these countries, and many more nations.
Christmas lives among whites, Blacks, Browns, Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox, Pentecostals, Baptists, Agnostics, insurance salesmen, lawyers, millworkers, blue collars, white collars, Unitarians, Buddhists, Sinners, Saints and Everyday Joes.
You think this is a coincidence? You think it’s just a big accident that all humanity agrees on the significance of one particular holiday? There are no accidents in this world.
Christmas is a time when God says to humankind, “I’m coming to hang out with you guys. So get ready.”
But the truth is, he doesn’t ONLY hang out with you at Christmas. God is with you year round. Especially when you don’t notice him.
God is with you when you take your chemo transfusion. He is with you when you’re lying on your bathroom floor, weeping because the physical pain is unbearable.
He is with you when you’re feeling like a godawful failure because you’re jonesing for a drink. He is with you when your own children refuse to visit you because your family is screwed up.
God is with you when you feel like you want to take your own life. God is with you when you are mourning for your infant daughter who died from SIDS. God is with you always, even until the end of the age.
And that is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
Ann H Mills - December 7, 2022 6:26 am
Jennifer Bennett - December 8, 2022 12:44 am
Sean-we are avid readers of your books and blog. Today’s blog confirmed to us what your daddy said about you:that you would be a writer or a musician or a preacher. We believe you’ve become all 3. Your Kansas Brethren
John - December 11, 2022 11:36 pm
If I wasn’t depressed before I sure am now after reading your article.
Lou - December 13, 2022 2:13 pm
Honestly there’s nothing depressing about this blog. If anything, it gives hope! Merry Christmas to you
Harriett Kirby - December 14, 2022 3:44 am
John, God is real, God is good, God’s plan includes you. I pray you accept Him as your savior.
oldlibrariansshelf - December 7, 2022 9:07 am
Thanks ever so much, Sean. I needed the reminder–along with your other kajillion faithful readers! Much love to you.
Emily Walls Ray - December 7, 2022 9:53 am
Sean, thank you putting perspective into, as you say, this contradictory time. The world sees this as a commercial opportunity, where it is actually a time to get ready for Christ’s second coming. You say it plain and simple. Emily Walls Ray
Ed (Bear) - December 7, 2022 10:26 am
I know that you’re also writing to yourself Sean. That’s what great writers do. Your message fits everyone. Thanks for your good and healing thoughts. I hope God blesses you greatly in love because you certainly deserve it.
David Grant - December 7, 2022 10:35 am
Atta-Boy Sean. I am thankful for your articles. Write on brother.
Donna Brombacher - December 7, 2022 10:45 am
Reading your posts every morning is my best gift; Christmas, Birthday, Anniversary-every. single. day! It is so true that God isn’t with us just at Christmas when we celebrate His birth, He is right by my side every. single. day. Merry Christmas, Sean!
Debbie - December 7, 2022 10:54 am
Chris Davis - December 7, 2022 11:48 am
Rob Crichton - December 7, 2022 11:50 am
Bravo! Great message!
Nancy Davison - December 7, 2022 11:57 am
Wonderful. You covered it all beautifully
Gary Fleming - December 7, 2022 11:58 am
Thanks Sean. At this time of the year of joyous celebration with family and friends, it is important to remember those who are suffering from wounds that don’t show up on an MRI. And for everyone of those clearly poignant instances, there are probably 10 more, that for perhaps reasons that they cannot comprehend, are just unhappy and unfulfilled in this life.
sheilla - December 7, 2022 12:09 pm
mccutchen52 - December 7, 2022 12:10 pm
Thanks for the Pep Talk. When the holidays are started earlier every year a good pep talk is what we need.
Sarah - December 7, 2022 12:24 pm
David - December 7, 2022 12:27 pm
I wish the whole world could read this! God bless you Sean!
pdjpop - December 7, 2022 12:29 pm
YOU GIVE US HOPE.
THANKS FOR SPREADING THE WORD.
WHEN WE INVITE HIM IN, WE SEE THE WONDERS OF OUR LIFE.
GOD BLESS EVERYONE.
Renee Miller - December 7, 2022 12:29 pm
One of my favorites!
Debbie g - December 7, 2022 12:37 pm
Thank you Sean and bless you
Love to all
Suzanne Barrick - December 7, 2022 12:53 pm
Thanks. When you are in a state its hard to remember others are there too. Merry Christmas to you and yours!!
Gwen - December 7, 2022 1:04 pm
Martha Black - December 7, 2022 1:17 pm
Thank you for the wake up & rally call…… Some days it’s hard, just plain hard to keep going. To keep accepting that inspite of everything life has thrown at us, there is still a glimmer of hope after all…… God is with us and he allows us to rest a while before dusting our aching hearts off and letting the joy to flow again…… Tis the season! We go on & he goes with and before us…… Merry Christmas…… & thank you……..
Emmagene Day - December 7, 2022 1:31 pm
Thank you thank you thank you!!
I needed this greatly this morning!!
sjhl7 - December 7, 2022 1:35 pm
Amen & Amen!
BJ Brandenburg - December 7, 2022 1:43 pm
JimmyJames - December 7, 2022 1:53 pm
Thank you for these words of encouragement and the reminder of the reason for the season.
Barbara - December 7, 2022 1:58 pm
Bless you Charlie Brown
Farris Jones - December 7, 2022 2:00 pm
Merry Christmas to All and a blessed New Year!
Anne Arthur - December 7, 2022 2:04 pm
Well said, Sean. I second every word you wrote. Merry Christmas, especially to those who are suffering. May God’s healing love touch everyone.
Dana Everhart - December 7, 2022 2:07 pm
May I use this in my Sunday sermon?
Ruth Gunter Mitchell - December 7, 2022 2:10 pm
Yes! Yes! and Yes!!!
Gordon - December 7, 2022 2:24 pm
Such a perfect post for this time of year, Sean. Your writings are perfect!!! Merry Christmas
Roxanne Taylor - December 7, 2022 2:34 pm
Thank you Sean for this amazing post that speaks to so many, including me. You are such a blessing to remind us that God is in control and sovereign, no matter how things may feel. He loves us and truly has a plan for our lives. God bless you brother, and keep writing these posts that move our hearts!
Connie - December 7, 2022 2:39 pm
Oh thank you!! Thank you, thank you.
I needed that. God bless you!! You sure have blessed me!!
Cheryll Woods-Flowers - December 7, 2022 2:41 pm
Thank you for this…next week we will face the first anniversary of our grandson’s death. Of course we have been wrapped in grief since the day we lost him. Know that you make a difference. God bless you…
Max - December 8, 2022 12:47 pm
In one sentence Sean summed up our losses. One son by suicide and one by alcoholism. We have one remaining, and the blessing of four beautiful granddaughters. Count your blessings. I am sorry for the loss of your grandson, but God did not intend that you live the rest of your life consumed by grief.
Elaine - December 7, 2022 3:12 pm
So so beautiful to see you become more and more open about calling God who He is…acknowledging He is real and so full of love…and not always using euphemisms like “the universe” and all that. He is real and loves us so much!
Trent - December 7, 2022 3:15 pm
Another “A” effort Sean. You get a “+” though for incorporating the classic “jonesing” phrase. God Bless you and thank you.
Immanuel (Hebrew: עִמָּנוּאֵל, romanized: ‘Īmmānū’ēl, meaning, “GOD IS WITH US”; also romanized: Emmanuel, Imanu’el; and Emmanouël or Εμμανουήλ in Koine Greek of the New Testament
Stacey Wallace - December 7, 2022 3:16 pm
Sean, you are right. God never leaves us, and He loves us so much that He sent His son Jesus to die for our sins. Also, although my heart is grieving for my sweet Mama, I am happy knowing that I will see her and Daddy when God calls me home to Heaven. Merry Christmas. Love to you, Jamie, and Marigold.
Jennifer Bain - December 7, 2022 3:18 pm
Thank You for this message. Immanuel , God With Us.
Kim - December 7, 2022 3:18 pm
Thanks Sean. I guess you knew I needed to hear that today. You are a blessing in a world woefully short on them.
Mickie Perkins - December 7, 2022 3:47 pm
Thank you, Sean, for bringing the reality of life in focus—even at Christmas when everything with you and the world is supposed to be well. Truly, Emmanuel is our hope-“God is with us”.
Mary Easterling - December 7, 2022 3:49 pm
This really was on point for me today. Thank you for the reminder. Bless you!
Wendy Collier - December 7, 2022 3:58 pm
Merry Christmas! Thank you so much for all your wonderful writing.
Helen - December 7, 2022 3:59 pm
Thank you, I needed that today.
Joyce Owens Byrd - December 7, 2022 4:06 pm
Peggy M. Windham - December 7, 2022 4:10 pm
Merry Christmas to you and Jaime and your fur babies!🎄❤️
Carolyn Shomaker - December 7, 2022 4:18 pm
Hit me right in my heart.
Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - December 7, 2022 4:43 pm
Christmas can be a painful time for a lot of people. I lead a Griefshare group and we talk about what we can do to make it through the holidays. It’s good to have a stragady!
suzi - December 7, 2022 5:39 pm
This is a keeper……
Gayle Doddd - December 7, 2022 6:44 pm
Beautiful and poignant thank you
Regina Vanderneut - December 7, 2022 6:51 pm
AMEN AMEN AND AMEN,MR SEAN!!!
Mary Lynn Faress - December 7, 2022 7:43 pm
Gif sent me an early Christmas gift today. I had my final radiation treatment this morning for stage 3 breast cancer. Thank you dear Jesus.
Anna Eaton - December 7, 2022 7:44 pm
Hi. Just leaving a comment to thank you for your column. Columns. Sometime in September my best friend from high school sent me a text telling me to check out your posts. She thought I would like your style and attitude.
Meh…okay maybe. One evening I looked you up. It was a tear jerker. Not sure I recall all the details but it involved a blind dog. I spent the better part of 3 hours looking through your archives. I decided to subscribe so I wouldn’t miss anything. Cheri was right..I like your style. A few days later I caught the one about tipping. Spot on IMHO. I continue to read because …well…it suits my style. One particular day I decided to stalk you a little further which led me to the interesting fact that you were born on my 30th birthday. So who knew. Not sure how you feel about our upcoming blessed day of birth. Meh….Ive only written 1 other comment to anyone I dont know personally. It was to the author of the book “The Art of Racing in the Rain ” I really like dogs and guys who write about them apparently. Happy Birthday soon Mr Diietrich. My 40 ‘s were truly my best decade ever.
Mary Lynn Faress - December 7, 2022 7:44 pm
God not Gif.
MermaidGrammy - December 7, 2022 7:45 pm
I think you must be an earthly angel. Probably you done even know it. But you are seriously touched by God to make this a better place. It works! And I thank you
Carol - December 7, 2022 7:52 pm
Once again, thank you for the reminder! Celebrating Advent!
Penny Burruss - December 7, 2022 7:57 pm
Thank you, Sean, for your reminder to all of us about the true meaning of Christmas. God bless you and please keep on writing.
pattymack43 - December 7, 2022 8:26 pm
You speak the truth!! Thanks for saying it in straight, understandable language. God is with us! Blessings to you and Jaime….
Louise Barnes - December 7, 2022 8:35 pm
Amen. And Hallelujah. Was it the prophet Isaiah or Jeremiah that said we would see Messiah called Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Prince of Peace? Oh my goodness, thank you for your wonderful words of life ( remember the old song in the Baptist Hymnal?)
And can I encourage you? I would love to have you visit my hometown of Sweetwater, Tennessee? Trust me, you will find many someones to talk to. Beautiful, quaint town, now being flooded with people who found paradise. Gateway to the Cherohala Skyway, British Fort Loudon, Sequoyah Museum, sooo much more. Let me know if you decide to go. You deserve to have our Main Street director acknowledge you and fill your cup!
Merry Christmas and thank you for reminding my husband and me that the 3 major illnesses in the past 3 years are just a stepping stone!
Andy Gartman - December 7, 2022 9:19 pm
Emmanuel. God with us.
Linda Moon - December 7, 2022 9:27 pm
I Really Really Really Really need your thoughts and prayers now. Four times “Really”. God’s been with me three times for some of that stuff you mentioned, and now I need him for the fourth time. So, thank you Sean “Brown for this message.
Melissa Brown - December 7, 2022 11:13 pm
Thank you Sean for this beautiful Christmas story. Jesus is the reason for the Season. Yes, he is who gets me through each day. Merry Christmas to you , your wife, and your sweet fur babies. ✝️
Linda Thacker - December 7, 2022 11:14 pm
Thank you so much for writing what many of us need to hear. I was able to share with a friend who always is sad at Christmas. You helped remind us of what we can hold on to.
D Blake - December 7, 2022 11:25 pm
AWESOME COLUMN TODAY SEAN! THANK YOU!
D Blake in NC
Patricia Gibson - December 7, 2022 11:48 pm
Judy Tayloe - December 8, 2022 1:03 am
Thank you, Sean. God Bless us everyone!
cajuntiger74 - December 8, 2022 1:49 am
One of your best ever. Not only is God coming, but He is here already, living in our hearts and souls, if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. Thanks for the reminder.
Beverly Schaffer - December 8, 2022 2:56 am
Sean, you are so right. This is the beautiful truth that sees beyond all the junk in our world. God’s love for each and everyone of us is the real miracle. We will survive this temporary pain and anguish. When I wish people a “Merry Christmas” what I am really wishing for each of us is a peace beyond all understanding and I guarantee it’s real and it is there.
Linda - December 8, 2022 3:00 am
I love your columns , Sean.
I am on chemo and some days and 3:00 Am times are harder to take than others but we are a family of faith and that is helping all of us get thru this .
Thank you for your column today😘
Patti Sakdiponephong - December 8, 2022 4:18 am
This is so good and so true ….keep writing ..It helps so many people !
Gladys - December 8, 2022 6:54 am
Thank you, beloved Sean. I needed to “hear” your words tonight.
Betsey Matheny - December 8, 2022 3:37 pm
Cynthia - December 9, 2022 7:11 pm
An absolutely wonderful commentary. Thank you for this gift.
Judith Harris - December 10, 2022 9:49 pm
Sean, you hit the nail on the head with this one! So true!!
Cathy M - December 10, 2022 10:44 pm
Your readers needed this today. Christmas is a wonderful time of year but it does bring back memories of those we have loved who are no longer with us. Yet those who are believers are with Christ Jesus in heaven. I pray for anyone who is struggling with illness, loss of a loved one or sadness of any nature. We all need Jesus in our lives. He is the reason for the season. Merry Christmas to you, Jaimie and the pups. You mean so much to so many❤️🙏🏻🎄
Kristy - December 11, 2022 6:05 pm
Ginga Smithfield - December 13, 2022 5:20 pm
That’s a very good one, Charlie Brown! Couldn’t have said it as well! You had me going, “Huh? What happened to Sean?” However, you finished with your good old Sean self!!! Merry Christmas!
Cat - December 21, 2022 4:47 am