Monday, December 2, 2013

A Christmas gut-check

I should've expected it, I guess. I was skipping toward Advent season, enjoying my Christmas Swing station (on my TuneIn Radio app), using up turkey leftovers (making my way through this list), and generally feeling merry and somewhat proud of myself for getting myself in order for gift-giving in advance.

Cue reality. Jeremy and I had a chat about Christmas gifts that we're giving, a written list that's was longer and more expensive than the one I had in my head. Then we agreed to not get each other gifts (my idea).

The next day (which just so happened to be December 1st) I was feeling sensitive about that decision, and how quickly he had acquiesced. I started feeling pretty down about it, really. Josiah had a horrible day with teething, and I couldn't find the Christmas decorations (found out later that they're in the garage). We weren't able to do the first night of Advent. A Christmas tree has to wait until payday. A trip to St. Louis for Christmas [window] shopping, etc., becomes a question on if we can afford the gas to get there. Suddenly, the Christmas music felt hollow, and the house felt cold. So did my heart.

Praying about it today, I think God is really testing me on my cliched thoughts about a homemade Christmas, about less is more, about the true meaning of the holiday season. I want so much for the boys to grow up anticipating Jesus' birth instead of a morning filled with presents. But how can they have that experience when that's still my heart? When I judge our Christmas on what I'm getting (like from Jeremy), or even what I'm able to give, then how can the boys do anything but that too? How can Jeremy enjoy the season when it feels like his wife is saying that what he has to offer isn't enough?

I'm not saying that gift-giving is wrong, obviously. There are a few gifts that I'm excited to give, even if I still have to let go of pride because they weren't expensive. But there are lots of times in a year when we can give presents to each other; Christmas has to be about the birth of Jesus, before anything else. At least for me.

Do you have the Bible app on your smartphone? I do, and every day there is a Verse of the Day; it's basically the equivalent of randomly opening your Bible to see if God will speak to you. Today He did. I admit to breaking down and crying when I read this; the Lord knew what my Spirit needed to hear.

"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him" (1 John 5 ESV).

No, I don't think it's necessarily in his will to ask for presents :) But I think it is in His will to ask for enough. To ask that He would truly change my heart to rejoice in His enough. To ask for his peace in being okay with giving what I have to the people I love, to trust that what I have to offer is enough for them. To ask that this Christmas would be full of joy and peace and excitement in celebrating the birth of baby Jesus, for my whole family. To ask that Elias would be enamored by the story of that sweet young savior's birth in a dark, dingy stable underneath a bright sky full of rejoicing angels.

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