Isn’t it ironic? Peace on earth, good will to all….meantime, I’m rushing about like a crazy woman!
We all need a good dose of chill during the holidays. One way I seek peace is to pray for extra attentiveness to my unspoken thoughts, especially when the dangerous “should” creeps in.
The word “should” gives me lots of big ideas: I should buy more presents, purchase new decorations, host a fancy party, make homemade goods to deliver around the neighborhood, build a nativity for the front yard, and the list goes on.
“Should” seems to focus my eyes on what I need to do to make the holiday season wonderful. It puts my effort and my striving at the center of the celebrations.
I imagine walking up to that nativity in my front yard, taking Jesus out of the manger, and jumping in there myself, saying, “Mindy is the reason for the season. Without her, we will have no Christmas!”
Can you see the tense smile that is frozen to my face? When I feel the burden to create joy for others, chances are pretty good that I will not have joy for myself. Here’s a play-by-play of how I attempt and fail at joy-generation:
1) I’m going to do this generous act that requires a massive investment of time and money. I long to create joyful family memories that will be remembered for years to come.
2) They better appreciate it!
3) I can’t believe it! They don’t appreciate it!
4) Now I’m really angry. I’ll either attack with wounded indignation, or I will withdraw with grumpy self-pity…neither of which will soothe my disappointment and frustration.
5) Everyone tries to avoid me, and they wish I would not try so hard to create holiday cheer in our family…and fail miserably at it.
Here’s the rub: Joy is a gift from God that is an overflow of time with Him. It cannot be manufactured by a mom. In fact, the more wet try to manufacture happiness with sacrifices and purchases, the more likely it is to fail miserably. What a profound disappointment…and yet, what a profound invitation, an opportunity to return to the true source of joy.
In Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colosse, we receive some valuable advice, “Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ–that is where the action is. See things from his perspective.” Colossians 3 (The Message)
This holiday season, I plan to spend time each day in God’s word to keep myself centered in Him, to arrest my eyes from the glittering things right in front of me which are luring me to grasp for ways that I “should” manufacture holiday cheer. I desire instead to look up into the eyes of Father God, to seek his eternal perspective on the myriad of choices that beckon each day. I wish to see things from His perspective. Join me in saying, “Come, peace.”