I wrote this blog post a few years ago, but it rings true still, each year since. Maybe you can relate…
I had a horrible day on December 23rd.
Our holiday season was very busy this year. We were gone a lot, we had a lot of obligations. We had holiday parties, LOTS of work, we bought gifts, we did this, we did that, we celebrated, we were here, there, and everywhere, and up to our elbows in Christmas cheer. It was fun, and there were jingle bells, and Christmas cookies, and twinkly lights, but man, did I overdo it. And it all caught up with me on the 23rd.
All it took was one rough moment, and the day was blown. And all of a sudden I decided that nothing I had done this holiday season was good enough. We didn’t do enough, I hadn’t shared enough nights around the fire with the kids, and I had not shared enough Christmas spirit with them. I decided that they had not had a good enough holiday season, and I was not a good enough mom. I decided we had not bought enough gifts, and their stockings weren’t going to be exciting. That they were going to be disappointed with Christmas, and then, so was I. I was upset that I thought I had not provided the kids with the Christmas of their dreams. I had such high expectations for the season, and I was convinced that I had let the kids down.
Looking back, I know I was focusing on ALLLLL the wrong things, but it took an Instagram post to change my entire outlook and ground me with a much-needed shift in perspective.
The caption read as follows:
“If I’m honest, the Martha and Mary story (Luke 10:38-42) always makes me a bit defensive. And I know it because a handful of my weaknesses are exposed. “Martha is the one who invited Jesus over,” I say. “Martha is cleaning the house and preparing the food…making the guests feel welcome and comfortable,” I say. God is so good to preserve this story in all its detail for people like me! Yes, Martha recognized how important Jesus is…enough to invite Him over. And yes, Martha is doing good work that needs to be done. But it’s not the BEST work. Sitting at the feet of Jesus and letting other things go- a messy house, things not as Pinteresty as they could be, a meal not quite perfect- is the most important thing at this moment. I need this story as much as much as I hate to see myself in Martha. God, help me always put you in the proper position in my life. Help me not let everything else go when it competes with sitting at your feet.”
Whoa. If that wasn’t a sign from God, I don’t know what is. I was wrong about two things. I HAD done enough. I had done MORE than enough. I had done plenty!!! And I had done too much. We celebrated Christmas a hundred different ways during the holiday season, and the kids had “their best Christmas EVER,” as Brantley later put it. But we had done so much that I was too busy focusing on the next fun thing or the next experience, or the perfect gift, that I had taken my focus off the real meaning of the season and what I actually needed to be doing. I was hustling around, like Martha, cleaning, and working, and stressing, and preparing, when all I actually needed to do was slow down, focus on my family, and most importantly, on Jesus. All I was trying to do was celebrate him and rush around and PRAISE! and make the most out of every moment, and all He wanted was for me to slow down and rest in Him. And I 100% believe that that is why I felt so sad, and so disappointed, and so stressed, and so empty from the season.
It was because out of all the things I did all holiday season, I had not done the one simple thing He wanted me to do- sit at His feet, focus on Him, and let some of the other things go.
It was a heartbreaking realization, but also a wonderful one. I had had a tough December and a tough 23rd. But now I knew what to do, and how to change it for the rest of the month.
We spent Christmas Eve in church. I mean, it was a Sunday, so we would’ve been there for one service anyway, but we went to the 11:00 service and then again at 5:00. We had a busy day, in church, then home cooking, making reindeer food, baking cookies, and preparing for Santa, but it was far more relaxed than any other day. I wasn’t worried about cramming in every last tradition or memory, there was no stress to it all. Because in my heart, I knew that those were the things that didn’t matter. Were they fun? Yes. Did we all enjoy it? Yes. What mattered was that at the end of the day, I sat down and focused my attention on Him. And we did for the rest of our break. We relaxed, we took it easy, with no schedules, and no stress. We stayed in our jammies, we played in the house. Then we headed to the beach with good friends, laughed, enjoyed the sunshine, and made new memories. But most importantly, instead of trying to create, and plan, and execute those special moments on my own, I tried to focus on Jesus in the days through our break, and then the special moments just flowed through us so much more naturally, and with so much more peace.
And I thanked God for the December 23rd realization that it was not all about me and all about the cookies and the gifts, and the Santa pictures, and the outfits, and the commercialization, and the decorations, and the lights, and everything else. Those things are wonderful, but you can get lost in them if you’re not careful. You can get lost in them if you’re just a mom with the best intentions, that wants to make a magical Christmas season for your children, just like me. But those things are not what’s important, and they are certainly not what makes Christmas magical.