Merry Christmas! We have been enjoying the past few weeks with friends and family. I have certainly been a little MIA from the blogging world. I have been so blessed by my time with my loved ones.
Why does Christmas come with so many expectations and emotions? It seems as though every year I try to prepare my heart for the time to come with family and friends and every year I leave disappointed with myself or the way I handled conflict or time with my family.
This year, I realized that the stress and exhastion that often comes with family gatherings around this time of year is due to wanting everything to be perfect. I want to try and control my surroundings so that everyone just gets along and has a great time. Why do I do this to myself and all those around me?
I have been humbled this season by my lack of grace and love, and the abundance of grace and love that is offered by Jesus. Christmas is such a strange juxtaposition. Media screams at us what we should have, new cars and jewelry and funky technology and boots. Magazines show us spreads of perfectly arranged dinner tables and drink concoctions. And all the presents under the tree? The kids cannot wait to tear them apart.
Somehow amidst the madness I listened to a podcast about the God-babe who came to earth many moons ago in a manger to give the greatest gift of all- peace. He was born into lowly circumstances, not much more than some straw and a stable most of us would scoff at. He endured much suffering to extend to many the chance to have their hearts of stone softened, that they might know true forgiveness and walk in the way of peace. Thousands of years later we still celebrate this beautiful moment in history, and we have called it Christmas.
Every year I struggle to maintain inner peace and joy and to remember the reason Christmas is so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes. It is almost to much to bear, and the hymns and praise songs throughout history will never stop ringing in my ears… “Oh Holy Night” chokes me up every time I hear it.
Each year, I find I am so in need of the peace of God, of His forgiveness, and of His power in my life. I see clearly how my life is so filled with idols- material things I want for myself and my family, unmet expectations that drive me mad, selfishness, the desire to control everything around me, and conflicts gone wrong. Christmas reminds me of the greatest gift of all- salvation. Nothing comes close to the beauty of the Christ born… nothing. My heart is humbled as I reflect on that simple truth, because I forget it so quickly.
As I look back at my weeks, I see so many beautiful moments captured. The gifts I have been given I am thankful for, and love each person who considered to give a portion from their cup to thank me with a gift. But beyond the gifts I see the faces of those I love, the lovely creases of their smiles and glimmer in their eyes. And my longing is that as I move closer to Christ my love for them would burn stronger, that I might love them well and genuinely. Because I fail at this calling constantly, I need help from God, and I am so thankful he promises me his help.
Merry Christmas to you and your beloved ones, and to end my season with joy, an excerpt from the bible! (I love to hear it in the voice of Linus from Charlie Brown Christmas).
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”