When the angels declare peace on earth and goodwill toward men, I think that is a clear message for all of us.
As wonderful as this time of year can be, it can also be filled with a dash of tension and a dribble of frustration with the overwhelming feat of getting everything done on your Christmas list. The decorations may be mostly up, but you still have that village of snowmen to set up, which takes days. Not to mention, family will soon be coming into town needing that guest room, children will be home from school begging for things to do, you have the annual holiday block party yet to plan, and the list goes…on and on.
Oh, how I understand how precious and daunting this time of year can be. We want everything to be perfect, magical, and even simply sweet as we place our focus on our people and pray for meaningful ways to keep Christ in Christmas.
As we eagerly strive to do our very best in recreating those enchanting moments filled with blissful memories each and every year, from the Elf on the Shelf to the precious homemade ornaments that dangle on the tree, have you noticed how quickly it can become shattered in a matter of moments? From the dog breaking the “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament to sibling rivalry and ungrateful hearts, it can really put a damper on things.
Let me give you a sneak peek into our holiday so far and give you a better picture of what I mean. The day before Thanksgiving, I made a solemn prayer to God that I would strive to place my focus on Him and not allow all the extra “stuff” to steal my peace and joy. Then it happened…I went next door to grab my little one (so fortunate to have great neighbors with kids the same age) and my foot slipped on their stairs. As soon as I came crashing (not so gracefully, mind you) down to the bottom, I instantly knew it wasn’t good. A trip to the ER and an x-ray later quickly reminded me that I will not be able to do “all the things” this year.
Hot tears stung my eyes at the thought of not being able to fulfill all the things still left to do. We had barely even gotten out our decorations. Yet, in that moment, I was forced to rely on others to help, which is so uncomfortable for me. But, as I sat on that sterile and crinkly clinical bed, glancing over at my dear friend who had brought me, her half smile and tender eyes told me everything: “It’s going to be okay.”
At that very moment, I was reminded that God was removing ways for me to stop striving for the perfect Christmas and lean into Him for peace, rest, and a reminder to shift my focus.
Maybe you need a little shift in focus?
It is so easy to get wrapped up in all the things to do; I truly get it. We want to give our children memories they will forever cherish. Oftentimes it is done with a good and gracious heart as you try your very best to keep Christ at the forefront.
But, this year, I invite you to try something a little bit different. And, while there is no need to break your foot in order to rest, there are some ways that can cause us to slow down and simply savor the splendor of this season. Yes, even amid sibling rivalry and a little chaos. So, let’s get right down to it and find a few meaningful ways to keep Christ is Christmas this year!
Awaken Your Heart
When was the last time you actually snuck away and read the Christmas story – all by yourself? If you’re a mom with littles, I’m guessing it has been a while. This year, awaken your heart with the good news and let that story be a reminder of why we do “all the things.”
Put on a Christmas movie for the littles, grab a cup of cocoa, and find a place to get still before God. Then, hand Him your heart. All the worry you have over making a magical Christmas. All the hurt you carry from strained relationships. All the grief that has welled up from inside due to a deep loss. Give it all over to Him as you open up His Word and read Luke 2 or Matthew 1 and 2.
Friend, let me start by saying this – it’s okay to say, “no.” So often we flood our schedules with so many unnecessary events or add more to our plate than we actually need to, so our blessed turns into stressed. If all the décor doesn’t come out, guess what? It’s okay. If you have to decline a party invite, that’s okay.
Reclaim your peace by seeking what truly matters and letting go of what is harboring mixed emotions of overwhelm or even resentment. Instead, set your sights on experiencing the joy. Yes, even in the chaos, because we know that children will be excited, and the house may be noisy. But just cherishing those times and not feeling rushed or flustered with stuff to do can really allow us to cherish these simple moments.
Be a Cheerful Giver
This is the season of giving, after all. Why not make it cheerful? So, your child has a gift list as long as the driveway and it makes you question the motives of their heart. That gives you the perfect opportunity to share the real gift of Christmas and the truth behind the nature of our God’s heart. Planting those little seeds is exactly what Proverbs 22:6 talks about.
Pray and ask God to reveal people you and your family can love on this Christmas. So many local charities are in need of cheerful volunteers. Serving as a family not only creates special memories, but it can etch within your children a heart of gratitude, too.
Embrace the Imperfect
I admit it. I am no longer ashamed of it. I’ve always been like this, even as a child. That said, I like things in their respectable place, and I try my best to keep things picked up and clean. So, as you can imagine, when things are out of place, I feel a little “out of sorts” too.
Christmastime kicks this into hyperdrive. The truth is I love to decorate and do all the things, I just have a certain way I like it to be done, and the mess must be gone shortly after. Sigh. Maybe you can relate a little?
Well, this year, I have been forced to embrace the mess. Yep! Even as I type this I look around at shoes on the floor and a crooked Christmas wreath that my little one hung up, (and I didn’t fix). I am trying (so very hard) to embrace the imperfect this year and just be present. If you struggle with this too, will you join me?
Luke 2:14 says it best! When the angels declare peace on earth and goodwill toward men, I think that is a clear message for all of us. The precious image of our beloved Messiah as an infant lying in the manger over 2,000 years ago is not just a humble story we share at Christmastime.
It is a divine sign that our God is a God of peace and goodwill. Meaning He is kind, gracious, and full of mercy. He is a God who has such a powerful love for His people that He sent His one and only Son to rescue us from our sinful selves. That is a story worth sharing and rejoicing over - time and time again!
Let’s practice goodwill and show God’s love to others in acts of kindness and giving hope by spreading the good news to those who need to hear it now and as we head into a new year.
May your Christmas be filled with joy, peace, and a simply sweet reminder that you don’t have to do it all - you merely need to lean on Him. Merry CHRISTmas, my dear friend!
Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Jeswin Thomas
Alicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy. Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.