I have always been an escapist, seldom making efforts but suffering to enjoy life. In short, it was doing nothing but expecting everything. I was a typical teenager, sad and depressed as often as not. In fact, teenage is a point in life when we started to encounter the harsh realities of life that for the most part were at odds with the way we were cradled in our mother’s lap and in the comfort of the safekeeping of our parents. Responsibilities begin to knock at our lives, and expectations can’t stop ringing in our ears.
Then, just like that, out of the blue, life became miserable and living every day became a dreary task. Mine was no different, I had to live a life of brokenness, pounded heavily with mental and emotional imbalance, and the pressures of running short with money and falling short of the expectations of my family, especially because of being the eldest boy who has to grow up and be a man and grow a metal shoulder for the family to lean on. To make it worse, I was supposed as a good child, doing well in school and other activities. The expectations, for that reason, were unmistakably high, but the reality was at a point low. I was thought of as good, but I was spoilt and in despair, relentlessly trying to find an escape in friends, alcohol and other kinds of stuff. But the reality still remains the same, and it all turned into pressures for me to a point where I thought and wished for death.
That was when I met My Christmas. It was Christmas morning, and I went to church, not to celebrate but simply because it was a tradition. I sat there, the guitar and the piano playing loud, the congregation was merrily singing, and in the front, there were people who were deep into the moment, singing with their eyes closed and their hands raised. But I was there, sitting and mumbling with the congregation, but deep inside my mind, I was brooding over the mistakes I made the previous night when I was wasted with alcohol, of things I shouldn’t have said and done.
It went on and in the middle of nowhere, I heard the congregation singing “CHRIST CAME TO GIVE US PEACE”. The line struck me so powerfully that I can start to feel drops of tears that began to roll down my cheeks. Then I began to think; if Christ came to give me peace, why am I here heavy and burdened? Why cannot I have that peace? The peace that someone had sacrificed his life for? Why am I here always sad and distressed, and, for me, living a miserly struggle? It was at that moment that I realise that there is a way that I can get out of all the mess of growing up; that there was the other side of struggling -happiness and a sense of fulfilment; that there is something to assuage my pain and that pain is not the only thing in life; that there is also the good in life, and a good in growing up, and that amidst the struggles in life, there is always beauty to see.
It was on that morning, that moment, that I celebrated my first true Christmas after 25 years of celebrating it as a tradition of my family and society, and the morning that gave me peace that has been my dear companion ever since. It was that Christmas that changes the way that I see life, that changed my life from struggling every day to beautifully living it. And maybe, the way I see is not all true, maybe you have a different Christmas or a different thing in life that gives you peace and a sense of completeness and a sense of fulfilment. But for me, it was that Christmas, that Son of God -Jesus Christ, who came and sacrificed his life for my sake, that has been my peace and will always be.
May this Christmas, like mine, brings you peace and joy! Merry Christmas!
First published:24 Dec 2021, 6:18 am
Social Activist and General Secretary, International Human Rights Association (IHRA), Manipur