By Jess Brown
Christmas is my favorite time of the year. What’s not to love? Most movies look amazing in a Christmas setting. It’s like in When Harry Met Sally, when Sally picks out a Christmas tree and Harry helps her carry it home down a sidewalk in New York City. Or in Elf, when Buddy sees the famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree decked out in hundreds of christmas lights.
A lot of times Christmas can look perfect and remind us how great everything can be. But if you’re like me, your life isn’t just like the movies we love to watch during the holiday season. It’s ok. Families aren’t perfect and life isn’t predictable. The good news is when we consistently focus on the real message of Christmas, we will be okay when our December doesn’t go according to plan.
In the book of Timothy, the author reminds us of a truth that can ground us January through December year after year:
“Here’s a statement worthy of trust: Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King, came into the world to save sinners, and I am the worst of them all. But it is for this reason I was given mercy: by displaying His perfect patience in me, the very worst of all sinners, Jesus the Anointed could show that patience to all who would believe in Him and gain eternal life. May the King eternal, immortal, and invisible—the one and only God—now be honored and glorified forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 15-17, The Voice).
This is some solid truth.
Often times we can forget how great Jesus is and how much He has done in order to save us from human condition. Here, Paul knows full well because he remembers his past and all that Jesus has changed in him. By no means am I saying to flog ourselves daily and never get over our past. What I am saying is if we humble ourselves, we can have that awestruck adoration year round.
Meditate on this with me: God, is perfect in His mercy and is patient to us. No matter what has happened in our lives or what we’ve willingly done, God knew because He is. He provided the gift of perfect mercy for every single one of us. Not only that, but He has perfect patience for us on our journeys with Him.
Isn’t that amazing? Does the perfect December 25th even compare?
REMOVE THE PRESSURE
I know it can be tempting to try to get everything right during the holidays because it seems like everyone else has it all together. We might be alone or estranged from our relatives, while receiving a card in the mail where someone’s family is wearing perfectly coordinated attire and looking lovingly at the camera.The truth is that they did not get that photo in one click.
Maybe you lost your job this Fall and your family isn’t exchanging gifts this year because you can’t afford to. Seeing all of the great sales maybe for items that you legitimately even need is difficult because you can’t make ends meet. Maybe you even lost a close friend or family member this year, and the thought of not seeing them on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is brutal.
I’m not saying these things aren’t painful and I’m not saying life isn’t hard. The pain can be crippling and life can feel unfair, but we should all remember that beyond Christmas we can feel perfect peace, love, mercy and joy. The world acknowledges once a year that a guy named Jesus was born and some people celebrate that. If as a Christian, we only allow ourselves to feel that joy and wonder once a year, we’d be selling God short.
Let’s not limit our year to one “photo”, one “display” or one “gift”, and fall apart when things don’t look the way we want them to. Photos get stored away, decorations get taken down, gifts get used or exchanged, and everything fades. Yet, God never does. I leave you with this prayer:
Father, help us see the true meaning of Christmas which is Your Son, Jesus. His Light never dims, His love never wanes, and His mercy for us is constant. Let us never fall into the trap of keeping Your glory alive only one time a year. And at the same time, let us never mistake Christmas as a time for our perfection. We are not defined by what we give or what we receive under the tree. We are not less than if we spend our holiday alone and away from family. We do not need to perform for the approval of others to show everything that we can pull off as the perfect homemaker, wife, mother, or daughter. God, You are the only One who deserves all the attention. You are so good. You cannot be exchanged. Your Light can never be taken down. Help us to see You in every season and remember everything You did for us by sending Jesus to do life among us. Heal our hearts of any hurt this season and help us be the gift to our world every day through Your strength. In Jesus’ name. Amen.