Christmas Affective Disorder (CAD)

Pastors get Christmas Affective Disorder. I’m surprised it’s not in some medical journal somewhere. Here are the symptoms as I have come to experience them:

1. A fear and even dread of the month of December. It looks. It is coming, sure as St. Nick. With this season comes about six more services, plus everything else that goes into the most stressful month of the year for most Americans.

2. A desire to avoid people. Now I think most pastors who suffer from depression go through periods where they simply want to stay away from people. Probably a result in part of compassion fatigue. But December is worse. For myself, I’d say 60% of the “counseling” I do as a pastor occurs in December and January. It’s crazy. I am afraid to talk to people, yet at the same time I know that they need me now more than any other time of the year. What to do?

3. Sermon meltdown. I’m sure that I recycle more sermons this month than any other month as well. How many more ways can you say Jesus is born for you? When you are stressed, under the gun for time, emotionally strung out, and running on fumes, it is very hard to prepare those memorable sermons. On top of that, there is a very real expectation that the sermons this time of year will be GREAT! The texts are rich and varied. There are more visitors than usual. The need is high. The bar is simply higher. It’s a perfect setup for a meltdown.

4. An elusive sense of Christmas cheer. I want to be cheerful and happy and seasonal. I really, really do. But it is hard. I feel guilty for not being happy and chipper. Which makes me even less happy and chipper. I look at all of the blogs of pastors who are rejoicing so much in Advent and the upcoming Christmastide, and I say to myself, “Why can I be more like them?” I LOVE ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS! Why can’t I get with the program and just be jolly?

So what to do? Here are a few things I try to remember:

A) Jesus comes whether I am Jolly or not. That is the real and true beauty of the season. Our Lord’s Advent is not based on my love, joy, peace, sermons, abilitytointeractwithotherpeople, or whatever else the ailment of the day might be.

B) In the same way, the Word of God is effective, regardless of my personal disposition at the time.

C) Moods change. Just because one day is bad doesn’t mean the next one will be. It may be better. It may be wonderful. That’s the beauty of each new day.

What are your thoughts?

-DMR

4 thoughts on “Christmas Affective Disorder (CAD)”

  1. I’m not a Pastor, but I’m fairly active in my local congregation. I notice that at this time of year we are also setting and approving budgets for the upcoming year, which can be an additional stress. Even tho the Pastor isn’t responsible for SETTING the budget, he is certainly affected by it, and often has to deal with…shall we say the ‘interpersonal aftermath of intense debate?’

  2. I’m not a Pastor, but I’m fairly active in my local congregation. I notice that at this time of year we are also setting and approving budgets for the upcoming year, which can be an additional stress. Even tho the Pastor isn’t responsible for SETTING the budget, he is certainly affected by it, and often has to deal with…shall we say the ‘interpersonal aftermath of intense debate?’

  3. DMR: “I LOVE ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS! Why can’t I get with the program and just be jolly?”

    SjB: I’m not sure why loving the Christmas season, but not being jolly about it should necessarily be a problem. Please let me explain. I got myself into some trouble by trying to reply to a blog where I felt like the gist of an article was making sorrow/mourning a sin and law was being applied to ‘set aside’ sorrow during the Christmas season. Now, I have been accused of not understanding the point in several blogs. I think I do understand and that they missed the point I was trying to make. Someday, I hope to learn to keep my mouth shut in the wrong places.

    I believe that there is more than enough room for people to have sorrow/mourning/heaviness during this wonderful season and have love for the season and joy in Christ at the same time. I’m not convinced that sorrow and joy are mutually exclusive. IMO joy is not the same as happiness or jolliness. Joy in Christ is a solid steady gift that does not exclude tears, sorrow, and suffering.

    Like you, I feel a lot of pressure. What I’ve found interesting from reading the pastoral blogs promoting the laying aside of burdens/sorrow is that they are not using any scripture. They are using lines from hymns or quotes from Luther or etc. Where is the scripture? Are hymns and Luther above or equal to scripture?

    It seems that I am being faced with man-made laws saying there is no room at the inn to worship/celebrate solemnly or with tears of sorrow streaming down my face. Where is the scripture that prohibits me from being solemn or having mourning or having heaviness of heart at Christmas?

    As far as I can tell from my understanding of the bible, the pressure is coming from men not God. I have no desire to spoil anyone’s fun or rain on their parade, but neither do I appreciate being pressured to conform to someone else’s false standards. That is why I and others I know wear public masks or keep to ourselves or seek the company of fellow travelers on the road of suffering when we are down or struggling during the holiday season. Comfort is found in Christ and fellow travelers.

    We are not all clones of each other with Stepford Wives’ perfect emotions. There is room for all of us in God’s kingdom. But not all people can accept that. Bearing one another’s burdens, mourning, suffering, and etc. are not a popular Christian teachings. Que sera.

    I am thankful for all of my friends and family who do not think ‘be jolly’ or ‘set aside all sorrow’ are laws from God on how Christmas must be celebrated. I am thankful that love, compassion, and kindness are the rules of law for celebrating Christmas in the homes I fellowship with. We know how to laugh, how to cry, and how to just ‘be’ together without a bunch of false expectations. Our emotions are free to run the full gamut over the holidays. I am glad. It’s easier to laugh and be jolly when the false ‘laws’ of men are lifted.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me vent my two cents and you won’t hear any ‘be jolly’ from my corner! Someday, I do hope to learn to be less wordy! 🙂

  4. DMR: “I LOVE ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS! Why can’t I get with the program and just be jolly?”

    SjB: I’m not sure why loving the Christmas season, but not being jolly about it should necessarily be a problem. Please let me explain. I got myself into some trouble by trying to reply to a blog where I felt like the gist of an article was making sorrow/mourning a sin and law was being applied to ‘set aside’ sorrow during the Christmas season. Now, I have been accused of not understanding the point in several blogs. I think I do understand and that they missed the point I was trying to make. Someday, I hope to learn to keep my mouth shut in the wrong places.

    I believe that there is more than enough room for people to have sorrow/mourning/heaviness during this wonderful season and have love for the season and joy in Christ at the same time. I’m not convinced that sorrow and joy are mutually exclusive. IMO joy is not the same as happiness or jolliness. Joy in Christ is a solid steady gift that does not exclude tears, sorrow, and suffering.

    Like you, I feel a lot of pressure. What I’ve found interesting from reading the pastoral blogs promoting the laying aside of burdens/sorrow is that they are not using any scripture. They are using lines from hymns or quotes from Luther or etc. Where is the scripture? Are hymns and Luther above or equal to scripture?

    It seems that I am being faced with man-made laws saying there is no room at the inn to worship/celebrate solemnly or with tears of sorrow streaming down my face. Where is the scripture that prohibits me from being solemn or having mourning or having heaviness of heart at Christmas?

    As far as I can tell from my understanding of the bible, the pressure is coming from men not God. I have no desire to spoil anyone’s fun or rain on their parade, but neither do I appreciate being pressured to conform to someone else’s false standards. That is why I and others I know wear public masks or keep to ourselves or seek the company of fellow travelers on the road of suffering when we are down or struggling during the holiday season. Comfort is found in Christ and fellow travelers.

    We are not all clones of each other with Stepford Wives’ perfect emotions. There is room for all of us in God’s kingdom. But not all people can accept that. Bearing one another’s burdens, mourning, suffering, and etc. are not a popular Christian teachings. Que sera.

    I am thankful for all of my friends and family who do not think ‘be jolly’ or ‘set aside all sorrow’ are laws from God on how Christmas must be celebrated. I am thankful that love, compassion, and kindness are the rules of law for celebrating Christmas in the homes I fellowship with. We know how to laugh, how to cry, and how to just ‘be’ together without a bunch of false expectations. Our emotions are free to run the full gamut over the holidays. I am glad. It’s easier to laugh and be jolly when the false ‘laws’ of men are lifted.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me vent my two cents and you won’t hear any ‘be jolly’ from my corner! Someday, I do hope to learn to be less wordy! 🙂

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Christmas Affective Disorder (CAD)

Pastors get Christmas Affective Disorder. I’m surprised it’s not in some medical journal somewhere. Here are the symptoms as I have come to experience them:

1. A fear and even dread of the month of December. It looks. It is coming, sure as St. Nick. With this season comes about six more services, plus everything else that goes into the most stressful month of the year for most Americans.

2. A desire to avoid people. Now I think most pastors who suffer from depression go through periods where they simply want to stay away from people. Probably a result in part of compassion fatigue. But December is worse. For myself, I’d say 60% of the “counseling” I do as a pastor occurs in December and January. It’s crazy. I am afraid to talk to people, yet at the same time I know that they need me now more than any other time of the year. What to do?

3. Sermon meltdown. I’m sure that I recycle more sermons this month than any other month as well. How many more ways can you say Jesus is born for you? When you are stressed, under the gun for time, emotionally strung out, and running on fumes, it is very hard to prepare those memorable sermons. On top of that, there is a very real expectation that the sermons this time of year will be GREAT! The texts are rich and varied. There are more visitors than usual. The need is high. The bar is simply higher. It’s a perfect setup for a meltdown.

4. An elusive sense of Christmas cheer. I want to be cheerful and happy and seasonal. I really, really do. But it is hard. I feel guilty for not being happy and chipper. Which makes me even less happy and chipper. I look at all of the blogs of pastors who are rejoicing so much in Advent and the upcoming Christmastide, and I say to myself, “Why can I be more like them?” I LOVE ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS! Why can’t I get with the program and just be jolly?

So what to do? Here are a few things I try to remember:

A) Jesus comes whether I am Jolly or not. That is the real and true beauty of the season. Our Lord’s Advent is not based on my love, joy, peace, sermons, abilitytointeractwithotherpeople, or whatever else the ailment of the day might be.

B) In the same way, the Word of God is effective, regardless of my personal disposition at the time.

C) Moods change. Just because one day is bad doesn’t mean the next one will be. It may be better. It may be wonderful. That’s the beauty of each new day.

What are your thoughts?

-DMR

2 thoughts on “Christmas Affective Disorder (CAD)”

  1. I’m not a Pastor, but I’m fairly active in my local congregation. I notice that at this time of year we are also setting and approving budgets for the upcoming year, which can be an additional stress. Even tho the Pastor isn’t responsible for SETTING the budget, he is certainly affected by it, and often has to deal with…shall we say the ‘interpersonal aftermath of intense debate?’

  2. DMR: “I LOVE ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS! Why can’t I get with the program and just be jolly?”

    SjB: I’m not sure why loving the Christmas season, but not being jolly about it should necessarily be a problem. Please let me explain. I got myself into some trouble by trying to reply to a blog where I felt like the gist of an article was making sorrow/mourning a sin and law was being applied to ‘set aside’ sorrow during the Christmas season. Now, I have been accused of not understanding the point in several blogs. I think I do understand and that they missed the point I was trying to make. Someday, I hope to learn to keep my mouth shut in the wrong places.

    I believe that there is more than enough room for people to have sorrow/mourning/heaviness during this wonderful season and have love for the season and joy in Christ at the same time. I’m not convinced that sorrow and joy are mutually exclusive. IMO joy is not the same as happiness or jolliness. Joy in Christ is a solid steady gift that does not exclude tears, sorrow, and suffering.

    Like you, I feel a lot of pressure. What I’ve found interesting from reading the pastoral blogs promoting the laying aside of burdens/sorrow is that they are not using any scripture. They are using lines from hymns or quotes from Luther or etc. Where is the scripture? Are hymns and Luther above or equal to scripture?

    It seems that I am being faced with man-made laws saying there is no room at the inn to worship/celebrate solemnly or with tears of sorrow streaming down my face. Where is the scripture that prohibits me from being solemn or having mourning or having heaviness of heart at Christmas?

    As far as I can tell from my understanding of the bible, the pressure is coming from men not God. I have no desire to spoil anyone’s fun or rain on their parade, but neither do I appreciate being pressured to conform to someone else’s false standards. That is why I and others I know wear public masks or keep to ourselves or seek the company of fellow travelers on the road of suffering when we are down or struggling during the holiday season. Comfort is found in Christ and fellow travelers.

    We are not all clones of each other with Stepford Wives’ perfect emotions. There is room for all of us in God’s kingdom. But not all people can accept that. Bearing one another’s burdens, mourning, suffering, and etc. are not a popular Christian teachings. Que sera.

    I am thankful for all of my friends and family who do not think ‘be jolly’ or ‘set aside all sorrow’ are laws from God on how Christmas must be celebrated. I am thankful that love, compassion, and kindness are the rules of law for celebrating Christmas in the homes I fellowship with. We know how to laugh, how to cry, and how to just ‘be’ together without a bunch of false expectations. Our emotions are free to run the full gamut over the holidays. I am glad. It’s easier to laugh and be jolly when the false ‘laws’ of men are lifted.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me vent my two cents and you won’t hear any ‘be jolly’ from my corner! Someday, I do hope to learn to be less wordy! 🙂

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