The Holidays Are Not All About Me and Other Grounding Truths for the Season
It’s mid-November and I nearly hyperventilated last week in Target.
I was shopping with my Mom and she asked if I could pick out a few toys for our little guy.
I walked up and down the aisles, my eyes glazed over at the toy walls overflowing with plastic options, packaged up, promising happiness and joy.
I told her, “I don’t know why, but buying more stuff makes me anxious. My heart is pounding.”
I felt dizzy, then over-whelmed. I wasn’t much of a help and we ended up leaving with just a few things.
After raising five kids, we’ve pretty much owned every toy in one form or another. My basement is full of thousands of Legos. I can’t bring myself (or my mom) to spend $49 on the new Spiderman/Minecraft/Lighting McQueen Lego packs. (Legos are Legos for crying out loud, and the point is to build with your imagination, not buy every new movie set that releases this year.)
I don’t want a 3 foot tall punching Batman that talks and has a 4 foot wing-span.
I don’t want puppies you have to feed with daily electronic food or risk their demise. I can’t take that kind of pressure right now.
I want to be festive during this time of the year, but the bombardment makes me grumpy. I’m not happy about the soul-zapping commercialism that says that plastic gadgets can bring me or my children happiness. Enough is enough. Over-abundance never satisfies. More doesn’t mean merrier.
I decided to remind myself of some grounding truths that I need during this holiday. Maybe they’ll help you as well?
- The Holidays are not all about me. God is in control of every aspect of this holiday. It’s a day holy unto Him, as is every day. Self-denial does not take a vacation on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years. Ditto for self-control. This day is another day to serve the Lord and bring glory to Him. Any expectation that I hold too tightly is a cruel taskmaster that I’ve voluntarily put myself in bondage to. Instead, I choose to live in the reality of God’s provisional will for my life right now and if God withholds something from me, there must be a very good reason. I will not make my children grumpy over a holiday. I will not snap over burnt gingerbread, or sigh/moan/stew when people don’t pitch in and help like they should. I have so much more than I deserve, and I confess that I am a debtor to grace. This changes the atmosphere of my home to a place of grace and gratitude.
- It is oh-so-much better to give than to receive. If you want to teach your children to be generous, Christmas is the perfect time to show them how wonderful it is to bless someone less fortunate than they. There are so many ways to give: bring supplies to a homeless shelter, toys to a local toys-for-tots drop box, or adopt a struggling family at church. Let your kids come face to face with need and people who truly will go without this year unless someone intervenes.
- Look outward. In a world lacking kindness, how can you be kind to someone today? What good deed could you do? What lonely person can you visit or invite over? Whose room can you decorate in a local nursing home? Who could you sit and LISTEN to and befriend?
- Say no to commercialism and greed. We are richer than 99% of the entire world, even the poorest of Americans. I wish we could say that we are happier than 99% of the world, but that’s not the case. Money does not bring happiness. Realize that happiness doesn’t come from material gain.
- Simple gifts are the most meaningful. It might surprise you that making a gift is not only more meaningful to the giver, but to the receiver as well.
- Give the gift of time. Remember last year when I asked you to write down the five friends who inspire you to do right, who breath life into you, and make you want to be a better person because they are following hard after God and living a life of wisdom? Do you still have that list? If so, make time to be a good friend to these special friends. Especially during stressful times, value your friendships and take time to cultivate them.
- Keep your eyes focused on Christ. Make extra time for prayer, devotional reading and studying your Bible. Study a character in the Christmas narrative: Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, or Zachariah. Look to their godly lives and make adjustments where you need to.We need wisdom every day, and especially during the holidays, to make right choices that reflect God’s will for our lives. We need God’s wisdom as we make purchases, deal with friends and family, plan our calendar, make plans and commitments, etc… and the Bible tells us the wisdom that we need starts with the fear of the Lord. When we are in His Word and are willing to exchange our will for His, we’ll be walking the whole path to wisdom.
- Keep an eye on your heart. Every aspect of our life is to be lived as an offering to God. Each word, action, and motive beneath His control and offered up as a sacrifice of worship. As believing women, we desire to live lives of obedience, so in the busyness of the season, it’s mandatory to keep a pulse on what exactly is being offered up and whether it is acceptable or not. The words we use, the thoughts we dwell on, our actions and reactions, the plans we make (and even our motives for the plans we make) are all acceptable or unacceptable worship. Invite God in to inspect your heart, thoughts, and motives. Like David prayed in Psalm 19: 14, ask God to take a look at the words of your mouth and the meditations of your heart, and ask Him if these offerings are acceptable in His sight, and approved by Him. Then get busy changing what needs to be changed.