The human way of doing happiness is captured brilliantly in the song about the most famous reindeer of all. If you recall, Rudolph had a very shiny nose. As a result, all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph play in any reindeer games.
Rudolph was not a happy reindeer. He was different from everyone else. He looked different – weird even. His gang rejected him for that. He was left alone and unhappy. Isn’t each of us a bit like Rudolph? What is different about you that others reject? Are you too fat? Unattractive? Bad teeth? Wrinkled? Full of strange habits about how you eat, make a mess or make stupid mistakes? Do you yourself reject that part of you?
Fortunately for Rudolph, fate intervened in the form of one foggy Christmas eve. Santa found a use for Rudolph. He came to him to say, “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you lead my sleigh tonight?” Then all the reindeer loved him and they shouted out with glee, “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history!”
Ah, that nasty fault for which we were teased, ridiculed and rejected has suddenly become our greatest asset. A person in authority recognizes our talent, hires us and we go on to achieve fame and fortune. Those who once looked down on us now eagerly jump on the bandwagon of our popularity.
Deep down, we hope they regret their ill-treatment of us. The lover who dumped us sees that we went on to be loved by another even better person. The boss who fired us sees that we climbed far higher and made far more money than they ever thought we had it within us. Indeed, perhaps we do so well that our name lives on even after we are long gone. Perhaps that is why I write books. I like the idea that the book will live on after me.
Rudolph’s story is our story. It is a recipe for unhappiness since few of us will achieve fame and fortune. Indeed, Hollywood and Wall Street are rife with tales of those who stumbled badly in the excesses of their success. No, let us burst that bubble this Christmas.
Let us do happiness in the opposite way – in a spiritual way. Jesus taught us that happiness comes from loving our neighbour as our selves. When we love and accept our own faults and flaws, we find it easy to accept those faults in others. Ironically, my experience is that we cannot first love our own faults. We cannot love ourselves into happiness. We must first love our neighbour’s faults. We must first love Rudolph’s ugly red nose, covered in warts and swollen pimples. Then we will love our own ugliness and therein, find lasting peace about that aspect of ourselves.
This Christmas season, let’s consider anyone with whom we hold a grudge or a resentment. Consider it a red shiny nose. Consider how it works for them even if it offends us. Their irritating habit is someone’s treasure. It could be our treasure if we can only see clearly how to love them as they are now, not as we would have them be. This is how Jesus loves us – exactly as we are now, imperfect and completely lovable. Peace be with you and yours this Christmas season.