Even after my own reminder to stay in peace and not get all discombobulated about the traditions of the season I fell in the Christmas pressure cooker yesterday.
I spent most of the day doing my Christmas shopping online, trying to squeeze the kids’ lists into our budget restrictions and feeling guilty about not getting presents for every extended family member and neighbor and church member and pet, and the mailman, and the trash man. And all my co-workers, and my husband’s co-workers. You know, the endless list of people we feel obligated to buy things for because if we don’t, how will they know that we care about them; that we aren’t grinchy, stingy, tightwads; that we appreciate them? At least for one day out of the year. Who makes up that list, anyway? Marketing people?
By the time my hubby got home from work I was stressed out, still in my pajamas, and distraught over whether or not the gifts will get here on time, if the kids will be disappointed by the limited number of items under the tree this year, if people will be offended because we don’t have presents for them, and so forth.
After almost 18 years of marriage, I should know better than to dump all my day’s distresses on my spouse before he has a chance to put down his lunchbox. However, knowledge and wisdom (the application of knowledge) are two different things, and I failed the wisdom test.
My darling husband’s wise response to my deluge of stress? Well, it ended up in his blog today, and I thought I’d share it here. It helped me put things back in perspective. I may just have to print it and post it around the house for a daily reminder the rest of the month!
(author’s note: edited from original post)
Should we stress out over the celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace? He came “…to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:79b) Are we following His lead?
He said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”( John 14:27) So who feels overburdened and worried about Christmas? ‘Tis the season to freak out and be fearful if you’re not careful.
What really is “the reason for the season?” The angel knew and declared, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14) So, it’s a wonderful time to praise and rejoice, but if for any reason in the season you lose your peace, you missed the point. And if you miss the point you’ll end up disappointed.
December can be highly stressful, especially if money is tight, but Jesus said “You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt 6:24 NIV) Should we go out and acquire more debt, and become “the servant of the lender” to celebrate the birth of the One who came to set us free? It’s not that we really want to be the lender’s slave and serve money, we just don’t want anyone to be disappointed. We want them to know we love them, and love is easier to express with gifts than honest words. Our whole life is supposed to be a reflection of love and giving, so why would we only focus on it once a year?
People are also afraid of what someone might think about them or not think about them, but the Savior came to set us free from fear. Many gifts are given more for the sake of the giver than the “givee.” Because it makes the giver feel good because the giver wants to give, but many times the person receiving could care less. Giving because of fear, or to make yourself feel better, is selfish.
Jesus wants to “pour out His love into our hearts,” yet how many people actually receive it and “walk in it,” especially while they are Christmas shopping?
He came to reconcile us to God the Heavenly Father so we could be FULfilled by relationship, not UNfulfilled by seeking stuff. How many people are stressed out right now seeking stuff and not focusing on the Father and the Son?
I like Christmas just fine, I just don’t like all the stress and pressure that goes with it. I’m not being a Scrooge, but many people really don’t enjoy this time of year. And there’s even religious pressure as many people try to make up some kind of meaning to go with all the decorations. Decking the halls can be delightful, but a heavy heart just sees a bunch of stuff. “Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief.” (Prov 14:13)
The condition of people’s hearts is more important than the condition of their houses. Are there any “decorations” on the inside or are they filled with sorrow? Don’t miss the real message of Christmas and end up acting ironic, moronic, and demonic.
Jesus came to give us love, joy and peace – with God and toward each other and that is what we celebrate – right? So I say celebrate and enjoy and don’t get caught in the trap. Don’t worry about all the “stuff,” but focus on loving God and loving people. And if you have lots of money, by all means buy lots of stuff, as long as it has some meaning. And if your budget is tight, then don’t worry about it. You can always find a way to express your love. Bake or make something, or simply and sincerely say “I love you!”
Give your heart, love, and loyalty as your gift to show that you value your relationships. God gave Himself! What will you give?