Christmas is wonderful, or is it?
As trees are dragged out of the attic and Amazon boxes arrive on the porch, let’s all admit this can be a conflicting season.
Faith can get messy at this time of the year, which is why we may feel conflicted.
We want to live with compassion and mercy. We want joy. We long to celebrate the birth of Christ, but that can be challenging as we spend time with that person who drives us crazy, or who delights in making us feel like we’re a loser. It can get messy when we try to be 10 different places at one time, and yet no one is really happy with that.
Love your enemy, Jesus said, but what if your enemy is the one cooking the turkey? What if feels like your enemy is your own child, throwing a fit as relatives cluck their tongues and shake their head? What about that friend who hurts your heart, or that man you really love but right now you don’t like him much at all?
Is it even possible to have a faith-filled, beautiful Christmas?
I believe it is.
So many of us plan a perfect Christmas, but what if we made room for imperfection? We go in knowing that this season will be a mix of wonderful, average, and sometimes frustrating moments.
This has two benefits. One, we release the need for perfection. Two, it doesn’t blindside us when things aren’t perfect. We know that Uncle Joe is going to talk about politics, so we’ve prepared for that mentally and sneak away to the kitchen for a second helping of pie, or take a walk.
We know that we can’t be everywhere at one time, and that someone is not going to be happy. So we do the best we can. If someone is unhappy, we allow them to work through those issues. We are too busy unwrapping presents, singing carols, and watching that child laugh, to try to carry someone else’s burden of discontent.
[bctt tweet=”So many of us plan a perfect Christmas, but making room for imperfection takes the pressure off. #livingfreetogether ” username=”suzanneeller”]
Find ways to make it about Jesus.
A friend shared that her greatest frustration was that Jesus’ birth wasn’t honored the way she wanted in her family circles.
When she brought that to prayer, she felt the Holy Spirit invite her to make this desire a personal goal, rather than a communal one. She began to find ways to celebrate Jesus — a sweet time of praise, enjoying the Nativity set that her grandmother loved, a Christmas Eve service with other believers.
The more she found personal ways to make Christmas about her Savior, the less need she felt to make everyone see it the same way. The beautiful result of this was inner peace rather than outer frustration.
Her family noticed that mom was at peace, and that offered natural opportunities to celebrate Jesus together.
Look for the good.
Just as I unwrap presents, I unwrap moments.
Maybe that person didn’t know how to say the right thing, but they showed up and they tried really hard. Perhaps the turkey was half-cooked and the dressing too salty, but when the story of Jesus’ birth was read, it was beautiful.
Looking for the good is intentional. It’s not being false, but seeing the bigger picture. Maybe a sibling was insensitive, and it’s tempting to make that your entire memory. But your husband was kind and protective, and you laughed until you cried as you played that game with the family. Looking for the good allows you to see the whole picture and put that one insensitive remark in perspective.
This is my prayer for each of us, friend. That this Christmas will be imperfectly beautiful.
Eat those sugar cookies piled high with icing. Field those crazy conversations. Hold that child. And all the while, remember that God so loved the world so much, he sent his son just for you.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Q: How might it change Christmas if you allowed for imperfections from the beginning?
Q: What is one way you can personally make Christmas about Jesus?
Q: Share one sweet or good memory from a past Christmas. (Even if everything else felt chaotic.)
Suzie….you always have a way of speaking to my heart….speaking the truth about frustrations in life. Thank you. I appreciate how God works through you.
If I allow for imperfections, that automatically gives me more room for peace. Because that realization that nothing will be perfect or how you pictured it in your head helps you enjoy where you are then a little more. I have found that no one notices the imperfections but me.
I can make this season personally about Jesus by enjoying my family a little more and listening to the Christmas songs that are about Him.
The best memory from last Christmas was my son opening an XBox game and realizing it was the exact one he wanted.
I appreciate the honesty and realness you put in this writing. It touched me and resonated with me so much! I hope I can remember your words through this season and through life. Thank you so much! Your words mean a lot to me!! Hope you and yours have a very blessed, safe and Merry Christmas!!
This truly spoke to me this morning. I thank you and pray God’s blessings for you.
Thank you and Amen
My best Christmas was being convicted that the gifts I buy help support women in desperate situations. And asking my sisters to stop buying me gifts for birthday and Christmas but giving to my favorite charities or theirs. I almost cried when I got the first email notification of a gift. Then for my birthday when I opened the card to see meals donated to the Rescue Mission I got goose bumps.
Hi Suzie- I don’t know how I’m going to get through the Christmas season. Every year feelings arise and my heart is overwhelmed. I feel alone with the love of Christ, decorating, cooking, wrapping, shopping-it’s not fun anymore. I’m so over feeling the disparity. I miss family. It’s so disfuntional. I should be very grateful as I have everything He has given me. But my heart is still lonely.
Lord, Lisa is not alone in this. There are many who struggle with this season. Today we pause to think of what it means. You came for us. You rescued us. You walked with the disciples and taught them and loved them right where they were. You reached for those who were overlooked, or who seemed impossible to reach. Your birth, your life, your sacrificial death, and your resurrection is a gift beyond words. Help us unwrap that each day through this season. Help us to take a snippet of this and savor it as we lift our hands and thank you.
I pray that Lisa feels you close. That wrapping those gifts is an opportunity to think about your gift. That cooking for family is a time to praise you for being a child of God. That decorating isn’t about perfection, but a reminder of the beauty of who you are.
Wrap around Lisa today. Take this disparity and push it away from her heart and thoughts as your presence fills that void. Thank you for her honesty and her courage and her love for you.
Lisa, your comment touched my heart. I have been there! The entire month of December was just full of depression and despair. But here’s something I learned: my feelings aren’t me. They’re just a part of me. I can make a choice to give in to them and be miserable. Or I can choose to look through every situation and see where Immanuel is with me and make that my focus. On a practical side, I’ve learned that the less sugar I eat and the more exercise I do, the depression has less chance to take hold. I love how Suzie’s friend chose to focus on celebrating Jesus herself. Any time I can lay down expectations I have of others and be focused on what God has for me is a good thing. Hugs and prayers for you, Lisa!
((((((((((((((((((((((((((((( Lisa )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))
I hope someone comes alongside you this Christmastime.
And remember Emmanuel – God with us.
God bless you,
One of my favorite Christmas days was realizing how God had healed our once dysfunctional extended family. The funny thing is there were plenty of things to pick apart or to say, “Hey, this family is still a work in progress.” Yet there we were, laughing, eating, being goofy, feeling loved. Such a contrast to some of the memories from the past. Every year I cannot help but thank God for the work he has done, and continues to do within our extended family (and in me).
My best Christmas memory is the year my parents didn’t have money to buy us gifts. So Mom wrapped one of her quilts for each of us and our spouses. That was the best gift I’ve ever received.
What a legacy!
What a beautiful keepsake!
A couple of years ago I sat my Grandsons down and we talked about Christmas and how very fortunate they were to have plenty of gifts under the tree. I asked them if they would like to donate the money I would use to buy their gifts to children who were in need of clothing or schooling. They were very pensive and then agreed that they would like to do it. The very next Christmas they asked me for the list so they could pick what to buy. This has now become important to them and it has taught them such an important lesson that I hope will carry through their lives.
I love this!!I am certain too that God will richly bless your grands for their generous, giving hearts!
I needed this! Thank you.
I knew last night when I went to bed and this morning when I woke up that I was in jeopardy of letting my focus slip. I sat under the prayer tree. I refused to let it happen. But I also know that I have to continue to be watchful. My mind wants to “catch up” with everyone else and have the decorating done, the presents wrapped, ect. Praying for my heart to stay focused on that beautiful babe that was born to save the world! People ask, “are you ready for Christmas”? I say, “define ready”. If you mean do I have the decorating done and the presents wrapped…no. But if you mean, am I ready to celebrate the birth of Christ…yes.
I love this. We also don’t have a tree up. I won’t even start purchasing gifts for a couple of weeks. Am I ready to celebrate the birth of Christ? yes. Thank you, Jodie!
I have a confession….I’m not doing Christmas cards this year. I’m doing Easter! I also left the wreaths in the attic instead of walking on the roof to stick them on the second story windows. I’m not putting lights on our truck like I usually do either. The house still looks beautiful and the kids are thrilled. Most satisfying of it all…I’m discovering that the absence of perfection results in my sanity and a peaceful advent. Who knew? Ha! Have a wonderful day and thank you for this confirmation.
Meg, I love this! May we all be more concerned with the lasting beauty all around us. xoxoxo Have a very Merry Christmas!
Im not putting up a tree. I have a ceramic one. And a wreath for my door. No cards no gifts except small ones for my grandkids. We just want to be together during Christmas. I posted this in Facebook. A lot are doing the same. No crazy shopping, credit card bills..no stress!!!!!! Jesus is the reason for the season. Our focus is on Him!!!!!!
I love it! The perfection trap is so real. I have cut down on decorations and all the hype, too. It’s a freeing feeling!
Thank you for this reminder! This year, I am struggling financially to support my daughter and I. I stress out because I think to myself that Christmas won’t be a big one because I can’t afford it. But, I have to remember that it’s not about that. I need to use this as a teaching tool for my 12 yr old. We can start a new tradition. I am thinking of putting up an Advent wreath and to focus not on the crazy shopping days, but what this season really means.
One special Christmas happened a couple of years ago. My brother was stationed in Georgia and decided to come home for the holidays. So, I invited them, my dad, my mom and her husband as well. I thought how Christmas could be a wreck because of the mixture of family members, but no. It was the best Christmas Day we have ever had. It brought our entire family closer together. I hope to do this again soon!
Jennifer — This is what Christmas is about! I’m glad you and your son can start new traditions and I pray you will have a Christmas filled with the joy and peace of our Savior.
I have found that making memories/starting traditions brings my family more joy than the gifts. I hope this will be the same for your family this year. Bake something together…or watch a movie together…or make handwritten cards to send to military personnel or bring to a nursing home….or… There are so many inexpensive things we can do. I pray your daughter sees joy in your eyes as you just spend time together!
Oh, the honesty of loving enemies. Why are own relatives them? If i mention healing, oh, well….He’s still the healer.
Yes! He’s still the Healer…I love that.
Thank-you for this! God bless!
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