About this time of year, I usually feel like a failure. Advents and Christmases past, have passed me by like a race car, leaving me in their little wisps of dust. Gone before I could even get a handle on it.
For many years, I haven’t enjoyed the Advent or Christmas season. I felt overwhelmed by all the things I should be doing. I felt guilty about all the stuff I wasn’t doing. So I didn’t do much of anything. Overlaying it all, was a general sense of anxiety that it was never gonna change.
I wanted to enjoy these momentous days of advent, and Christmas. Instead it felt more like an endurance test. Just get through it. Hopefully in one piece.
If you’re feeling like you’ve already behind with advent or you’re too tired to even think about it, I want to let you know you aren’t alone. It’s okay. Jesus did not come to enslave you to a rigorous advent or Christmas schedule. Buying a chocolate advent calendar with Disney characters on it, won’t cost you your salvation or make you a bad mom. Baking one batch of sugar cookies (not iced!) and calling it your Christmas baking is fine.
My mother always tells me there are seasons in life. I appreciate this bit of wisdom more now, because there are times when the kiddos are teeny or busy or are in crises regardless of age, that take over Advent or any holiday. There are years where we are too tired emotionally, spiritually or physically to do much more than the bare minimum. All is not lost. Jesus came for those of us who do not have it all together too.
It’s great to be able to celebrate in style but it’s not necessary to experiencing Christmas or more importantly, having a rich relationship with Christ. He totally understands where we are at. What’s really going on in our homes, our emotions, our spirits. He doesn’t need all the fussy decorations, the elaborate cookie trays, to speak to us. Some years slapping a tree up and buying some presents are all we can manage. Does that mean Christmas is a bust?
No. Christmas happens in our hearts regardless of all the other events going on. You can do up your house, have people in to visit, drink eggnog and read an advent reading all twenty-four days and you still miss Christmas. Still feel empty. Christmas belongs to God and if you miss Him, you miss the point. God is all about our hearts. Where they are focused. He’s not about appearances. Good or bad. Decorated or not decorated.
If you are barely hanging on, grab hold of Him this season. He can do the impossible in our lives, offering hope that things can change. He was the good news over two thousand years ago. He is still that today.
For the first time in many years, I have some clarity. My brain fog has cleared. Over many months even a year, things changed. I changed. I have taken a few steps away from the bare minimum. Amid the busyness, I found the energy to plan some Advent activities. Nothing elaborate. I was tempted but I kept it simple. And I did it! It hasn’t been a chore. It’s been a joy. In doing so, there is the truth and hope that seasons and lives can change. For the better. That life in abundance, which is being present and living rather than standing in it’s dust, is possible.
Whether it’s about surviving the holidays or embracing as much as you can, I pray your heart will find hope and a sense of home in the One who gave us Christmas because He loves us unconditionally, whatever season of life we find ourselves in.