I admit it! My guilty pleasure in times of anxiety and stress is watching an occasional Hallmark movie – especially at Christmas time. My favorite movie of the season is The Christmas Ornament. I also admit that even though I have watched it least four times, I still get a nervous feeling in my stomach, hoping that everything turns out right.
This morning I caught my husband (a dedicated non-romantic) watching this movie! Promising myself that I would, after all, DVR it and watch it one more time, I stayed in the room just long enough to hear [spoiler alert] a widowed Kellie Martin tell a grieving-a-broken-relationship Cameron Mathison, that she was finally ready to go forward with their blossoming relationship. She says, teary-eyed, “I thought I had to give up Scott [her much-loved deceased husband] to have you. But I don’t.”
The phrase struck me immediately, I think, because my mother never came to that recognition. When my father did not return from World War II, she never really could give herself to any relationship because she thought she would have to give up Rolly to have happiness – and she wasn’t willing to do that. This failed vision cost pain in every relationship in our family.
But the phrase, “I thought I had to give up ___ to have ___” has theological overtones as well. How often has this equation, “I have to give up ___ to be a Christian” stopped someone from surrendering his or her life to a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus the Christ? How often do committed Christians stay stuck in their relationship with God because they fear that giving too much to God will cause them hardship and pain? How often are passionate Christ-followers stopped from growing and learning by the concern that change is something they must fear – and ultimately refuse? The entire narrative of Scripture convincingly reveals that when people give up everything for God, they still win.
The Christmas Ornament is not an overtly “Christian” movie, but when you tire of eating and watching football and Christmas shopping in the next few weeks, you might want to give it a try. The ups and downs in this relationship between a widow and a jilted boyfriend are real, the courage they show as they battle their fears is instructive, and the recognition that they can love again without giving up their memories is heartwarming. Even more, the hidden lesson that a Christian can take from this experience is to stop worrying what you may have to give up to follow Christ because what you will gain will be priceless.