Scroll down to the bottom for a minute, then come back here. See that happy baby below on Christmas Day? That was Manchild as a 1 year old. With a MASSIVE old bruise on his head- the year he broke the Christmas tree. Please note the Christmas joy in his face. The peace and comfort he is feeling as a result of knowing that the Christ child came to earth to save him, and restore his, yet undeveloped, relationship with God. It’s a beautiful thing, this Christmas. So why all the angst out there?
As with most important things, there is a season of preparation.The Advent season helps us prepare spiritually for the full meaning of Christ coming to earth. Amazon Prime helps us prepare physically for the gift giving and receiving. And the tree, the ornaments, the star, the lights, the inflatable Santas with North Pole creatures, the blow molded plastic manger scenes, the wreaths, the Charlie Brown movie, and truck loads of silver bells all over the place help us to prepare environmentally. In our homes, offices, and out in public America.
But what about those times when the need to decorate the tree RIGHT NOW cuts into your time with God? And Family Time is cut short by the pending items in your online cart, which need to be checked out before the free shipping deal ends. What happens in those times when our balance gets wobbly, and our plans and preparations refuse to fall in line with what’s actually happening in our homes and lives?
When I was young and single, I had total control of my schedule. I made a point to set aside time to spend with God every day, and generally did. I’d read my Bible, journal a bit, and talk to God about whatever was on my heart. And I took it all for granted.
Fast forward to my first Christmas as a mother (Girlchild was born on Valentines Day) and I am sitting at a women’s brunch at a friend’s house. This dear friend has a history of making a point to host an Advent brunch most years, with the emphasis on being still, taking a minute to breathe, and spend some time re-focusing our seasonal plans on God. Lord bless her, she is a gift!
Anyway, I can’t remember what the topic was, but I do remember sharing that since becoming a mother, I no longer set aside the time with God like I had been doing before. I remember relaying my wildly unfounded fear that, because I no longer made time for God since having Girlchild, God might take her away from me! Then crying about it.
Once I said it out loud, I could hear just how unrealistic this statement was. This notion was nothing like the character of God! There was nothing Biblical about it. Satan had whispered me a lie, and I bought it. Hook, line, and sinker. I was off balance in my life, and feared retribution, despite never being punished by God once in our 25 year relationship.
See the problem with balance is that, should you fail at it, you are often the one punishing yourself (more than the true consequence ever would).
So you don’t get your outside lights up this year, who cares? If your cookies at the Cookie Swap are store bought, no one will tar and feather you (or shoot you condescending looks, the frenemey equivalent). If your Christmas card photo shoot ends up being a crap fest with results that aren’t worth the printing costs, skip it this year. No, seriously! There are, literally, no negative consequences for sending out Christmas cards without pictures. The stress is all in your head, knocking your Christmas preparations out of kilter.
There is no need to be perfect. The world will keep turning if your special Christmas tradition gets skipped this year. If you have pizza instead of ham for the big dinner, if your only kid sleeps through the family Christmas light outing (ahem, Girlchild), or you don’t make it to that train display. So what?!
Everyone, everywhere, be gracious with yourself this Christmas season. Let go of the things that threaten to sink your ship, and re-align your sights on the stuff that matters. It’s okay to fail at your to-do list, it wasn’t gonna be perfectly anyway.