So, here with are. The holiday season is upon us. I know this because Christmas trees are popping up (including ours), the black friday sales ads are out, and tv commercials consist of Christmas jingles that persuade parents to buy their little children all the toys of their dreams, Operation Christmas Child and Toys for Tots boxes are out, the little red buckets have stolen all our change, I am attempting to prepare my first ever Turkey for a family at church, and all anyone can talk about is what we want for Christmas. I hope this post finds you in the midst of all the holiday cheer and celebration (even if it is a tad bit early).
I will be the first to admit it. I LOVE the holiday season(hence why our tree is already up). Snow, twinkling lights, Christmas trees, family, and most of all, presents!
Snow is one of my favorite aspects of this world God has created for us. The miracle of precipitation solidifying at just the right temperature to turn, not into ice, but the soft, flaky, sparkling, fluffy wonderfulness that is a snowflake. I love when a blanket of snow covers the earth (or at least the part of it that I can see at the time). It brings a peace, serenity, and quietness to the hectic, stressful, crazy of my life. It is a time of sleeping for earth, when everything has a chance to let go of the past and prepare for spring, a time of rebirth and change. And, on top of it all, snow gets everyone into the Christmas spirit.
Lights are hung around doors, windows, and every eave of the house. Christmas trees are hunted, chopped down, and decorated (or brought out, fluffed, and decorated) with all sorts of bulbs, tinsel, and ornaments. It seems as if the whole world lights up. Families (typically consisting of dad working, watching football, and doing the manly duties of the house, mom cooking, cleaning, and performing all manners of motherly duties, sons playing video games and living in an alternate reality, and daughters non-stop texting, drooling over boys, and everyday drama…all very stereotypical, I know) join together, spending quality time and relishing memories of the past as each treasure and ornament is hung on their tree.
People always seem to be more generous around the holidays. Christmas has the power to connect the people of the world, opening their hearts (and pocket books) to help those in need. Stuffing shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, participating in the Angel Tree at work, loading up on Toys for Tots, and filling the red buckets hanging outside every store is the name of the game during the holiday season. Giving makes us all feel good. But, you know what we seem to think makes us feel even better?
Presents! I LOVE presents. Any kind of present. Birthday presents, christmas presents, anniversary presents, valentine’s day presents, surprise presents, you’re such a great wife presents, thanks for breathing presents, mail (it’s like a present…you don’t know it’s coming and it’s wrapped…who knows what could be inside!), I just LOVE presents! I also know that I am selfish. This character trait is one of my main sin struggles. It’s not that I only want presents for me, I love to give others presents too, but I mostly just love to get presents.
Now, I know it is not even close to Christmas, I know we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet. So, why this topic now? Well…Brandon and I have been going over our budget to plan for Christmas and Thanksgiving this year. Once we decided how much we could spend on presents, I went straight into planning mode. I researched gifts for family and friends, we wrote up our Christmas lists, sent it out to everyone, planned our trip home, and I even started an amazon cart full of items I wanted to get Brandon(consisting of crazy survival gear because he has become a “Prepper” likes the Doomsday Preppers show on TV).
Throughout all the excitement, searching, and budgeting, God somehow broke through my holiday focus and and laid His message on my heart. He has given me a challenge this Christmas to finally look long and hard at myself and see, through His eyes, the qualities I need to work on in myself. He has called me to approach my selfishness head-on.
I know in my heart that this is God’s push for me to deal with one of my most sinful personality traits and make a change for the better. So, instead of being so selfish this holiday season, I have chosen to love. God calls us to love one another. Love is not just saying “I love you” but so much more than that. 1 John 3:18 says, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue but in deed and in truth”. Of course we should show love with our words, speaking with kindness, patience, tenderness, warmth, and affection but love gives these meaning. Love is a laborious and operative grace (you know, “labor of love”-it’s an action, not just a feeling or emotion). Our Lord wants us to LOVE one another; to serve each other, to bear one another’s burdens, forgive one another, pray for each other, build each other up, to restore, to minister, to labor. This is loving “in deed”; this is actual love, apparent and evident, and it is “in truth”, it is in reality, and not only in show. On top of it all, it is cordially and heartily done, with a cheerful heart, and without grudging, grumbling, or complaining.
This Christmas, Brandon and I have chosen to give the gift of love. To ask nothing in return. To JOYFULLY and with a heart full of CHEER serve a family, to bear some of their burden (one we know they would struggle with on their own), to pray for them, to work hard for them, to LOVE them. I also hope we have began a new family tradition. What that tradition will look like when we have our own children who we want desperately to shower with hundreds of dollars of toys they will grow bored with in a month or two, I’m not sure. God will help us figure it out though.
The birth of Christ (and His death as a payment for my sin) was an everlasting gift. I have received undeserved mercy and grace from an all loving God through this gift. My children will receive this same gift, if they so choose to believe. What other present could we possibly ask for? I am so thankful for the gift of Christ, for the changes He is making in me, for giving me a husband who believes, trusts, and has the faith to obey Him, and for the opportunity to follow His command and LOVE my fellow man.
I hope you find a way you too can spread a little love (and holiday cheer) this season!
Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!
Until next time!