After emerging from the holidays, I confess that I have a love hate relationship with Christmas. The reason is that there is so much idealism associated with the holiday. I can’t help but try to achieve idyllic moments. And then there is so much pressure to perform, to have the house all warm and festive, to have cookie jars filled with yummy treats, to have a tree with a pile of shiny presents under it, to have gifts that will make people feel loved, to do things that are special memories. I could go on and on.
But the thing is, it can be stressful, trying to make all these things happen. And while there may be idyllic moments, for me, there is also a feeling that I am missing the mark. There’s drama in the family. Reality crashes in. Also, I dislike the whole manic feeling in the air, like we have to buy into the myth that Christmas will be perfect, and do all these things, even as I myself am doing many of them.
But I learned several things during the holidays. One I realized on Christmas Day, early in the morning when I was the only one in the house awake. I was feeling emotional about several troubling situations, and I felt the Spirit say, “That is why I sent Jesus as a babe so many years ago. I sent him to be the solution, the only solution, to these things.”
So for 2017, I want to fix my eyes on Jesus as the solution. So many times I want to get caught up in all kinds of plans and schemes to fix things and make them better. The solution is always Jesus.
“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” I Cor 2:2
The other thing the Spirit showed me as I worked through my feelings is that a strength of our family is that we are easy going. Thus, we’re not going to be uptight and make sure every detail is perfect. Why do I seek an idyllic experience when we’re not wired to create one?
Of course, the idyllic experience doesn’t come from the trappings. It’s like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The idyllic experience comes from being together.
One time I was telling my friend Yesenia about a challenging interaction involving my kids. She sighed wistfully, and said, “Ah, family.” I love this! To her, it wasn’t bad that the interaction occurred. It was a part of the bliss of being with loved ones, challenges and all.
But onto the next point. All of this played into the thing that is really helping me right now, and that has to do with the psalm I’m reading in my study of the psalms in chronological order. Here is the end of Psalm 57
They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves.
My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
The wonderful thing about these verses is they show how having a steadfast heart is associated with praising God. David was beleaguered by his enemies. But he could declare that his heart was unmoved, because he was so focused on the glory of God.
And that is what I’ve started doing as well. I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter how I am doing or what is going on. It just matters that God is awesome! When I start to get down, I take my eyes off of myself, and put them on God. I think of how God is light, and has no darkness in him. I think of how he loves me so much he gave his very best for me. I think of how his creation reflects his majesty. I think of his mercy. I think of his power that is as vast as the universe. I always feel better when I reflect on these things.
Because, just like I do with Christmas, I keep trying to create perfection. But perfection is only found in God, in Jesus! So I remember these verses:
Any perfection I find, comes through God. My idyllic moments are distilled from him. I RECEIVE from him good things, over and over and over again.
“From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” John 1:16
So I focus on receiving instead of performing. I focus on HIM and his many faceted glories.
And my heart is more steadfast. Because I’m not looking at myself with my highs and lows, or the world with its ups and downs. I’m looking at the Lord, who changes not, and is always good.