'Twas two months before Christmas ...
© Nicki Black
© December 10, 2012, Nicki Black. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
In light of the holidays and many burning their cranberry candles at both ends, I felt a pull to share some of my heart with you about finding rest in this season of fullness. I'll try to keep this post pithy (well, for me, anyway), as we all know you're being stretched thin and time is short, and those who are parents probably have kids who are begging you to tend to any number of things that are going to blow up, throw up, or need cleaning up, heh heh...
But first, below is my little version of a well known poem with some of my observations of friends and family and others I have seen, past and present:
'Twas two months before Christmas and all through the house, Mom spies twelve more grey hairs and foam at her mouth. Her children are
whiiiiiny and tired of the mall, and her husband works hard but stays clear of them all. The house smells like chocolate and cookies and pine, while the bedrooms and laundry climbs walls like a vine. Parking lots, Overstock, .dotcoms gallore, call to her wallet and preys on her, "MORE!". ....
Need more illustration?
Christmas parties. Christmas decorating. Spending more time in your vehicle than your own house. Running from one holiday event to the next. New clothes for the perfect impression. Trying not to overspend on gifts, but falling short because "just one or three more things" will surely make them happy-er. Succumbing to all "the last of the season" sales before the next "last of the season" sales a week later. Vowing to pay down the credit cards "next year". Involving the kids in as much as possible so they have full childhood memories and something to "do". Baking until your hands are raw. Forgetting to turn on the oven because you're so overwhelmed so your cookies are raw. Shopping for distant relatives you haven't talked to but once a year, or less. Trying to reinvent holiday recipes to wow the family and friends. Walking around with that special dazed "Sunday face". Appearing jolly and exuberant on the outside, but crushingly exhausted and emotionally spent on the inside. What else can I cram in there? A lot more, I'm sure. Does any of this sound painfully familiar?
I have just described a huge number of people-pleasers during the holidays and throughout the rest of the year, as events and opportunities beckon and even guilt their active participation. While some really do find great joy and a call to grab the horn of plenty during holidays and fill up every moment of time that 24 hours will allow, I am not one of those people. Please note absolutely no judgement from me, as the thankfulness and fun activity of the holidays is truly something we should not overlook, as long as it's done in realistic moderation and not at the very real expense of a great number of things, such as finances, sanity, and the emotional and spiritual health of you and your family. Some people can fit 26 hours into 24 and be on the constant go. I believe if this is neither fabricated nor an act of striving and appeasing, it is a genuine gifting from God. Praise Him for people like that, and know what I'm writing isn't meant for them. ;-) But if you are prone to feel like you "just need to get through December" before you feel "normal" again, consider this: Slow down. Worship more. Re-prioritize. Refocus. REST.
The older I become, the more I understand the revelation that I feel most like "me" when I remain on a less-popular path of being at rest, even when the world is telling me to go go go. Thanksgiving and Christmas are really no different for me and my family compared to any other time of the year, sans decorating a small amount and playing the old Christmas classic songs that we enjoy so much. I have purposely chosen over the years to step back at the holidays, even more so, to breathe during these busy times, prayerfully saying a very firm "no thank you" to requests that over-extend our normal schedules or just fill up our hours with busyness. I am neither disengaged nor disinterested. Rather, I am staying true to myself and my spiritual makeup, teaching my children to find rest, balance, quiet, and closeness with the Lord no matter what the season, what their friends are doing, or the environment around them. I am teaching my children that soaking in His sweet presence and pursuing their God-given giftings every single day is absolutely necessary and takes priority over any other activity. I do not seek to over-please those around me with token and expected holiday acts of service if I feel God nudges me with confirmation to say no. Truly, I desire deeply to nurture an atmosphere where there is a tangible sense of calm and peace, a flowing conduit for worship and creativity, making a welcome home for the Holy Spirit each and every day of the year. Do I fail sometimes and let life run me off my road to peace and contentment? You bet! But the point is that I dust myself off after I occasionally grab a quick bite at the Pity Party Cafe, and get back on that road. Resting takes work, but it's so worth the effort, however an oxymoron that sounds.
I know it's so very easy to want to do it all and make the very best memories for our families, but consider this: He speaks loudest in our hearts when we are at our quietest. If you feel like you are just getting by, perhaps it's time you step back for a time, and ask the Lord for a deeper well of rest and direction. This takes a purposed mind set upon following through. Ask Him, and He shall direct your ways. Most of all, I pray none of us miss His voice by working so hard to display His Son on our sleeves.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." ~ Matthew 11:28