Recovery, Choices and Holidays

“The doctor is real in.”

Those words are written on a psychiatrist stand the character Lucy has in the Christmas classic, “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!”

That got me thinking. We’re once again, at that festive time of year, with all of its parties, concerts, kiddie pageants and assortment of other holiday events. There seems to be an overwhelming amount of stuff to go to. And yet, during this festive season, it’s more than difficult to get a doctor’s appointment. Or is that just my experience?

When I was sixteen years old, I got the chicken pox at Christmas. Ho ho ho! There was not much I could do; there was no doctor I could see, because every single one of them were off for the holiday. So, it was me, the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” (colorized version), some calamine lotion, a couch and itching. Because I didn’t get chicken pox like most kids, at age six or seven and because I was this late bloomer, my stint with the itchy stuff lasted about three weeks. It was not a festive time.

And, years’ later, I seem to have run into the same dilemma repeatedly whenever I try to schedule an appointment with the doctor or dentist. Most of the time, the doctor is real out. So, what’s my option? Where do I go from there?

Well, there’s a potential and dangerous choice out there, left unchecked; I could turn to my definition of a panacea. Instead of dealing with the discomfort and pain in the moment, I could choose to numb, escape from and soothe it. Sounds like classic addiction, doesn’t it? We try to cope and turn to anything to attempt to make that happen. Those coping methods can include a wide variety of consumption choices for each one of us: food, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, just to name a few. And the excuse we possibly use for turning to them? The doctor was out.

Do you feel that way now, at this festive time of year? Do you feel there is no help for you? Do you feel hopeless? Addictions, disorders and compulsions can leave us in that state. It may be easy for us to believe the thought that we’re “the only one.” We may believe that no one else knows or understands our predicament. So, we’re justified, therefore, in turning to our solution, rather than reach for help. If it’s too hopeless for us, if no one’s available, if the doctor is, indeed, out, why not turn to whatever works? What’s the lyric from John Lennon? “Whatever gets you through the night…”

But it is not hopeless. The holiday season is notorious for its loneliness. We keep hearing how our unrealistic, idealistic childhood expectations often set us up for disappointment. The hype cannot satisfy our expectations.

And then there’s the stress. So, we turn to something to get us through, to medicate, to numb and to escape. And, as we feel like failures, we may also believe the lie that everyone else has got it together. Not true. Everyone is a mess in some way or another. Each one of us has stuff to deal with.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

All the more reason, then why each one of us needs God in our lives and in our recovery, whatever we’re recovering from. All the more reason we need to turn to God when every other doctor and solution is unavailable to us.

This holiday season can be a reminder then, that each one of us has access to the same God:

Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 1 Corinthians 8:6

When, not if, you and I feel alone and overwhelmed by life, addictions and all kinds of issues, we can remember this is exactly why Jesus came in the first place:

“…It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Matthew 9:12; Luke 5:31

He is our great physician, lovingly tending to each of our wounds. Feeling sick and wounded? Apply Jesus. Feeling hopeless? Apply Jesus. Feeling lonely and lost? Apply Jesus.

Indeed, when it comes to Jesus, loving and intervening for each one of us, “the doctor is real in!”