I was catching a ride home from the office where I work at MetLife Insurance and saw a huge crowd of people going into Wal-Mart. My first reaction was, “Wow, look at all the people!” but then I began to think about it, aligning what I was seeing with the season and time of year I am in. It’s Christmas. They are going to buy their loved ones and friends gifts. It is the time of year where we have an excuse to reach out to others in gratitude and appreciation, hoping to somehow show them how much they are loved. It lifted my heart in a special way because I sincerely love this time of year and I thought how beautiful it would be if we could keep the same love and gratitude in our hearts year round.
The purpose of Christmas recognizes the wonder of giving, without string attached, from a spirit of total selflessness, and as an expression of genuine care for others. It is the perfect reflection of Jesus, who gave everything for us. When I think of helping a stranger who has nothing, or digging into my pocket for my family, just being a “decent” person, I think of Him who for love of us all gave Himself up out of heaven and became man, took off His mantle of sovereignty and put on the cloak of humility. I look at that much the same way that I was looking at all the people going in to shop tonight. “Wow, look at what He did?”
Being the type of person that I am, I couldn’t leave it there. Why, because my idea was, how does that affect me? I haven’t gone shopping yet, not in the sense of going to a store to buy a material gift. Instead I am shopping for the souls of those around me who need to know that they are loved and appreciated. How long had I gone without hearing how special I am, how much I am loved and cared for. I remember how much it meant to me when the Jordan Gospel Ministry came into the prison. They were gifts to my soul. Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you did, they will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” I felt loved and it didn’t require a present in the traditional sense. It required someone coming into my circumstance and reaching out to me, taking time to listen to my hurt and dreams, and just being there for me. Now, if you know Mama Jordan, then you know that she is going to tell you, “Mama Loves You, and you are SPECIAL.” It doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from, or what you’ve done, listen to Mama. I want to give others that same present not only on this Christmas but all year round.
This Christmas let us remember that it is so much more than a party, an excuse, for us who call on the name of Christ, it is a lifestyle, one that remains in our heart all year long. It is the gift that keeps on giving and as the one song states so well, "Don't save it all for Christmas day."
God bless you and Merry Christmas!
Carl E. Shuck was sentenced to prison when he was in his teens. He served almost 32 years and was released in July of 2016. He writes from his perspective of being a former inmate, a Christian and learning a whole new world that has changed while he was behind bars.