November 3, 2017
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16 (ESV)
I stood at my kitchen counter, staring at my planner which was freshly spattered with gingerbread cookie dough. But that wasn’t the only thing dotting my “December” calendar. Events, commitments, activities, family get-togethers … they crowded the 31 squares on the page, leaving little room for white space (and even less space for my sanity).
Being the mother of three young children with a full plate of responsibilities meant my life was busy. But the holiday season brought an even more intense type of busy. While my mind danced with visions of a nostalgic, charming family togetherness, sipping hot cocoa and snuggling up reading our favorite Christmas books, my reality looked nothing like that.
Each child had at least an activity or two on the calendar. This meant an onslaught of concerts, pageants, parties and more. Besides that, there was frenzy of preparing our home for the holidays. Decorating. Baking. Cleaning. And don’t forget the shopping. Presents to buy and craft supplies to secure, not to mention groceries for the hordes of holiday baking to be done. Toss in writing our annual Christmas letter and then addressing the cards we send, and it was enough to make this mama’s holiday head spin.
Suddenly, there was a knock on my door. It was my neighbor, Mrs. B. She was a retired school teacher, who lived in the corner house on our street and was like a grandmother to my children. She was returning a kitchen utensil she’d borrowed.
Mrs. B was always ready to listen. And so, I vented my frustration. I thought she’d share some great seasonal shortcuts to help me accomplish my tasks. Instead, what she gave me was a renewed perspective.
“Oh honey,” she said. “Your outlook is all wrong. The holidays aren’t for running yourself ragged. They are an excuse to make someone else’s life better.”
The look of bewilderment on my face caused her to continue. “Stop fretting about getting it all done. Instead, start looking for those who are feeling sad, lonely or left out and include them in your ordinary holiday activities. Invite them into the hustle and bustle of the season. The perspective change will be revolutionary.”
I reluctantly took her advice. Much to my delight, she was right! Instead of fretting that I had to dress and haul my three kids to the Christmas pageant at church, I smiled knowing we’d invited a recently widowed woman to join us who otherwise would have been sitting home all alone. The look of delight on her face as the children sang and recited Scripture was priceless.
Rather than grumbling at all the baking and candy making my kids wanted to do, we chose a few people to bless with a plate of our finished treats. They were so grateful for their holiday goodies and touched that we’d thought of them.
So many ideas came to my mind: Reach out to a shut-in to see if we could help her decorate her home or address her Christmas cards. Contact our church office to learn if there were any families facing financial hardship whom we could give a grocery gift certificate to purchase food for their holiday dinner.
Simple acts of goodness and kindness. Over the years, they have helped my attitude to recalculate, landing it in a healthy and God-honoring place.
Today’s key verse states, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:16). The hurried holidays are a perfect time for putting this verse into practice. When we determine to stop fussing about what we “have to do” and instead begin to “share what we have,” we please God. And we get to bless others in the process.
This holiday season, don’t let your too-packed calendar knock the joy right out of you. Plan to look for ways to do good and share with others for whom the coming yuletide season isn’t the most wonderful time of the year.
Remember, the holidays are an excuse to make someone else’s life better. Go find that someone. Do good and share. And if you’re the one who’s struggling this season, I pray God meets your needs in practical, heart-felt ways.
Father, may I be grateful for the tasks and activities of the season as I look for ways to reach out to others and brighten their day. Help me remember You’re the ultimate gift of all. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 12:13, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (NIV)
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For inspiration to live an others-centered life, check out Karen Ehman’s book (and DVD Bible study) Listen, Love, Repeat: Others-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World.
Join Karen over at her blog today to discover more ways to bless others between now and Christmas, and get her new PDF, “How to Bless, Not Stress: Creative Family Ideas for Making the Holidays About Others” to help prepare your heart for the holidays.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Is the holiday season for you more about stressing or blessing? Why do you think that is?
What is one kind gesture you can do this holiday season to make someone else’s life better?
© 2017 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.
Originally published Friday, 03 November 2017.