Consider Ebenezer Scrooge, one of literature’s most famous characters. His surly, “Bah! Humbug!” has echoed through the decades as a reminder to us all of our own selfish natures. Rather than regarding Scrooge as literary figure only, let us look to him as Teacher. What can we learn from old Ebenezer?
On Christmas Eve, Scrooge encounters Jacob Marley, his long-dead business partner, who warns him of his fate unless his ways are mended. Scrooge warily eyes Jacob’s chains of selfishness and scoffs at the apparition’s prophecy of a similar fate awaiting him. He’s content in his life of greed, after all, and sees no need for change.
Lesson 1: Denial prevents change. Before you can decide to change, you have to be in enough pain to admit there is a problem in the first place. If you see nothing wrong with your life, you will be reluctant to make changes.
Lesson 2: Learn from the example of others. We must have the wisdom to learn from the experiences of others so that we are not doomed to repeat their failures.
At the first bell, the Ghost of Christmas Past visits Scrooge and guides him through a series of memories from his youth that shaped his beliefs about relationships and responsibilities. Scrooge looks on apathetically as he views the negligence from his father and rejection from his fiancée which caused him pain as a young man.
Lesson 3: To heal you must feel. Ask God to reveal the root cause behind the ceilings in your life. Then ask the Holy Ghost to help you face that pain, forgive yourself and others, and become aware that Jesus was there with you all along, knowing you would come out of those situations victorious in the end.
The second bell ushers in the Ghost of Christmas Present who shows Scrooge the love and merriment being experienced by those whom Scrooge knows and looks down upon. The ghost reveals to Scrooge some of the joyful alternatives to his lonely, miserable existence.
Lesson 4: It pays to be present. Be aware of your surroundings: the people in your life and the things God has put in your hand. There are many blessings that surround you every day; become thankful for them.
At last, Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future who shows him the grim outcome of his selfishness. Scrooge is forced to reckon with the way in which his own actions impact the lives of others.
Lesson 5: Awareness of consequences creates motivation. We’re all going to die someday. It’s how we choose to live our lives that determines our eternal reward.
Lesson 6: Your actions have consequences for others. Social scientists say the least outgoing of us will still affect 10,000 people in our lifetime. How are you impacting the lives of those around you?
Upon Christmas morn, Scrooge awakens to discover a beautiful day filled with fresh possibility and a chance to begin life anew. With thankfulness welling from his heart, Scrooge splurges on a turkey for the Cratchit family, gives Bob Cratchit a generous raise, promises money to the charities he had previously spurned, and even turns up at his nephew’s Christmas party. The change he experiences is lived out through his generosity and interaction with others.
Lesson 7: Transformation requires action. Remember, faith without works is dead! The manner in which you embrace change will be revealed through your actions and your kindness towards others.
‘Tis the season for change. Let’s keep Scrooge’s lessons in mind as we journey through this holiday season… and may God bless us, every one!