I had a few not so hot moments over the weekend. Moments that said panic, frustration, self-doubt. For some reason, I decided to have surgery during what could arguably be the busiest and most stressful(we’ll come back to this) time of the year. I have no idea why I thought this was a good plan. It wasn’t. While I’m sitting here breathing well for the first time in my entire life, it easily could have waited 3 weeks. I missed an entire week of life, and it was the week BEFORE Christmas. The kids last week in school was spent with me on the couch ordering way too much stuff off Amazon Prime. I blame the drugs. Why in the world is this time of year so stressful? Why do we let this stress overtake us to our very core?
This whole surgery thing made what is usually stressful ten times more stressful. But it also got me thinking. All day Saturday I felt like a failure. My house was messy(and can I just interject that my husband, kids and friends were AMAZING. It’s not like I had no help last week. MY people came through in a big way. But still, when momma’s down things just seem a bit hairy) and all I could think about were all the things I hadn’t done yet. Who cares I just had surgery. In my mind there was no excuse. I was simply behind. Way behind.
I got on social media and all I saw were Elves and perfectly wrapped gifts. Momma’s at parties and the gifts for all their family and co-workers, teachers and friends. Hand made by the way. What in the world. For those of us stuck at home sitting on our hiney’s unable to go out in public for obvious reasons……all of these Pinterest perfect Christmases are making the rest of us look bad. Or feel bad. Or both? Or maybe we just make ourselves feel bad because our standards are just simply too high. We expect too much out of ourselves, and we can’t deliver. We expect 100% of ourselves to go to all things. And as a very wise friend reminded me, that simply isn’t possible. Something will inherently suffer.
I realized it’s not every one elses fault I feel this way. It’s not Pinterest. It’s not the crafty mom or the cute decked out in her adorable seasonal attire mom while I’m yet to get my hair out of a messy bun and shave my legs and get in a pair of actual real live pants. It’s my fault. And here’s why. I’m focussing on all the wrong things. I’m choosing to place my worth and joy in my performance. The fact that I have not wrapped a single gift doesn’t matter. My stockings are hung with care, but not stuffed. My laundry is piled next to the unwrapped gifts in our room. I teach bootcamp and didn’t have a Christmas party for my girls nor did I purchase or make them a single gift. I didn’t do a thing for any of my neighbors. I didn’t send out Christmas cards. I didn’t help with school Christmas parties and I didn’t buy any teacher gifts. You guys. By the current standards that we have set for ourselves these days, I have “failed” on most accounts. But that’s really just a lie(now hear me, some of these things I do see as important such as reaching out to my neighbors and properly thanking the people who invest in my kids every single day of the school year, but it just didn’t happen this year, and for that there has to be grace).
“Measuring sticks try to rank some people as big and some people as small – but we aren’t sizes. We are souls. There are no better people or worse people – there are only God-made souls.”
I’m not a failure. Christmas isn’t about me or you or how cute we look. It’s not about self promotion or appearance. It’s not about how much you ARE or are NOT able to do. Maybe this Christmas is just hard for you. Maybe it’s your health or a job situation or any number of life things that have caused you to feel less than joyful. Can I just encourage you for a sec? I know my situation is temporary, and I’m on the mend and have so much to be thankful for. But I just want to urge you to take the next two days and choose joy. Choose thanks. It’s about HIM. We’re all here because of Jesus. We have a Christmas because of His gift to us. And somehow, we’ve lost sight of that. I’ve lost sight of that. I focus on my stress and my people and my things and my stuff. I haven’t taken any time to sit and talk with my kids and simply remind them what Christmas is, and what it is not. That should be my primary job at Christmas. To teach my kids value in the season. To remind them they are redeemed and to point their attention and focus to others and the needs of real people who are hurting and suffering. To do my very best to shape their little hearts to be Jesus and other’s focussed.
“A simplified Christmas isn’t about circumstances as much as it is about focus.”
You guys. Regardless of where you are today, Christmas can be celebrated with joy because we’ve been given the greatest gift. The gift of Jesus. He brings joy to a world full of sadness and hope to a world full or doubt. He brings celebration to hard times and the ability to see through the muck. Because Christmas isn’t always easy or pretty. And I get that. But we can make a choice to stop choosing guilt and stress and start choosing hope and joy.
We can love the ones we’re with and stop and savor our coffee today. We can say thank you to the one who came to save. We can take our focus off of what we don’t have and focus on what we do, even if it’s very little. I understand that I’m sitting in a warm home with a cup of coffee, cars in the garage, food in my belly and clothes on my kids backs. But hear me, this could all be taken away in a second. And I pray my focus is on the One who gives, and takes away. That it could all vanish and my heart would still be filled with joy and gratitude. That to me, it’s just stuff. It holds no eternal value. May my heart reflect that and my attitude show that to the ones around me. And may it all start with a choice. A choice to be brave….and to choose joy.
“The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.”