Alright everybody. Huddle up.
As I write this post, we are just over one week out. Let’s do some damage control.
While Christmastime can be a warm and joyous occasion, man, can it also be a minefield. Even if we’ve made serious progress with our mental health, there’s something in the air that threatens to pull us back to our old ways.
Here are three thoughts I am dwelling on this week. I find them helpful and I hope you will too. By God’s grace, you and I are going to keep our heads on straight this year.
Good Thoughts to Think:
1. Your Christmas celebration does not define you as a person.
The pressure to be amazing is real. You feel bombarded by it with every commercial, every Christmas show, every perfectly innocent picture your friends post on social media.
This internal drive to be okay, to be good enough, to “look like the picture,” mutates us into frantic, scrambling versions of ourselves capable of turning a pleasant holiday into a nightmare.
Oh, my friends. We have veered from truth.
There’s nothing wrong with planning and decorating and giving gifts. Enjoying beautiful moments with our loved ones can be live-giving and special.
But we need to ground ourselves in the truth of our identity this week.
Pulling off a Merry Christmas for yourself and your family is not the thing that makes you okay. No amount of planning, decorating, and gift-giving can secure the acceptance you long for.
We must remember how deeply we are already accepted.
You and I are okay because of who we are in Christ.
Strip away everything you think you bring to the table and everything you count as a fatal flaw.
God loves you. The un-decorated, basic version of yourself. You don’t have to prove anything in his presence. Your ability or inability to pull off a Christmas celebration does not define your worth.
You are okay in the most profound sense of the word.
Take a moment and know this to be true.
Ground yourself in God’s love this week as you move into the details of celebrating. It will keep you from looking for your identity elsewhere.
2. Give what you can and let that be enough.
Oh, the tangled mess we get into over gifts. How can something so pleasant morph into the bane of our existence? I’ll tell you why it happens to me.
When I give out of fear, rather than love, Christmas sours.
Instead of giving joyfully what we can afford, we worry about disappointing others and overextend ourselves. This leads to resentment, anxiety, and legitimate financial strain.
And we wonder at the knot in our stomachs.
Listen to what 2 Corinthians has to say about giving. Paul was taking up a collection to meet the needs of first-century Christians in Jerusalem, but I think the principle can help us today.
Note that his instructions were not to give everything they possibly could. Each person was to give as he had decided. And so must we.
Giving calls for wisdom. For accepting the limits of our resources.
When your heart is set on blessing your loved ones rather than impressing them, it is much easier to stay within your means.
Let love replace your worry. Give what you can and let that be enough.
3. Make your peace with the present.
This is it, your imperfect, messy, complicated, beautiful life.
You exist in the present, as do the people around you. But how often are our minds preoccupied everywhere but here.
Christmastime can remind us how life has changed or how it isn’t yet what we want it to be.
We are pulled to the past through grief and nostalgia, or we spend our days longing for the future. But somewhere between our mourning and our waiting, we must learn to make peace with the present.
Don’t despise today because you’d rather have yesterday or tomorrow. Your life contains more blessings than you realize. Slow down and be solidly here. Look for the joys and cherish your present company.
I am reminded of a quote from a wonderful book by Elisabeth Elliot. Her words settle my wandering heart.
This Christmas, let’s ground ourselves in the love of God, give what we can with joy, and embrace the present with the ones we love.
What thoughts, scriptures, or quotes are helping you this season? We’d love to hear them! Scroll down and share it in the comment section at the bottom of the page.
Talk to you next week!