”Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or dismayed and do not be afraid.”
This entry is for women. Or anyone who dearly loves a woman.
Christmas is not an easy season for us. I’ve joked that Christmas would not “happen” were it not for women because we add a lot more during the Advent season.
At 55, I have some Christmas seasons under my belt. I have over-bought, over-wrapped, under slept, over-done to impress my neighbors, over written Christmas letters (always in January) and generally buried myself in to-do lists.
I have planned infinite family meals, been to three grocery stores in a day to get all the right ingredients for each special person I love, attended Christmas programs and luncheons, arranged travel and coordinated multiple schedules for loved ones. I’ve changed a lot of bedding and one year hosted five dogs at one time when “they all came home” with their pets in tow. In doing so, I have hurried myself into a short fuse with those I love the most and come out with a fraction of the focus on Jesus I desire.
I am certain this is not the goal. I’m a slow learner, but I’ve been making some adjustments over the years to help me focus on what matters most through this Advent season. My prayer is that you, too, will adjust so that you can see more of Jesus in your days.
First, I’ve found it life giving to have a focusing word or verse to cling to through the season. I ask God to help me with this.
A couple years ago this was particularly significant. I was to share the worship message the day after Christmas, and was hosting 30 people in our home Christmas day. I was teaching on God’s peace. The first Christmas card I received in early December had the word “PEACE” on the front. It became my icon for the season. I would offer a simple prayer at junctures in the day, “Dear Lord, help me give and receive your peace. Show me your ways. Amen.” Even in the midst of much activity, I could dually sense God’s peace in and through me. I sensed His closeness and guidance. His friendship. There was Jesus beside me in the midst of much required activity leading up to this grand birthday party.
Cultivating our own receptivity to God creates space for us to receive grace. That grace can come in fresh ideas and approaches to what’s enough and what matters most.
The second practice that helps is to open myself up to friends who can help me talk through the unique Christmas season challenge I’m facing. Confessing and sharing with another what’s tangling me up inside is a lifeline to clarity. Last year I had the courage to share with a friend the simple dilemma of the Christmas dinner menu. I say “courage” because it seemed silly, something I should be able to figure out on my own.
Through our conversation I had the paradigm shifting, and tradition-busting idea to make lasagna ahead of time, versus tending meal preparations through much of the day. We also shifted to disposable tableware. As you can expect, I was able to sink into the people instead of the preparations, and it was folklore versus fact that everyone was attached to the traditional menu.
Ladies, make it a little different this year. In Jesus name.
“Dear Jesus, I love you. And I adore what I know about your mother Mary.
Please reveal to me what’s really important this Christmas season
in my sphere of family and friends that I influence.
Give me clarity this season to pursue those activities, gifts, and investments of time
that best reflect your character and will in our world.
And, Jesus, when I blow it, help me remember that you came to be my Savior.
You love me and I need you. Amen.”