Every year I am determined that I am going to have a relaxing, peaceful, love filled Christmas centered around the birth of Jesus. It will be overflowing with deep conversation, happy times playing board games, food that could be photographed for a magazine layout and time to nap. Everybody would be just so happy to be together that nothing else would matter.
As I sit at my desk reviewing the past week I realize that I have somehow internalized the perfect Christmas to look like a Brady Bunch episode. For those of you who have never watched it on “Nick at Night”, or in my case, watched the show when it was on prime time (was prime time even a term back then?), the Brady Bunch show was about a blended family that lived a perfect life. Sure there was conflict but it was worked through in a healthy manner within a half an hour. Mike, Carol and Alice never broke a sweat as the children rebelled or fought with each other. Have you ever noticed that the grass in the backyard is really artificial turf? No one’s grass is that green! Talk about the grass being greener on the other side of the fence…I digress, that’s a whole different blog.
Where in my journey did I really come to believe that this was the standard of success? Maybe it was because the family I grew up in looked nothing like the Brady Bunch. Perhaps I have bought into the lie that tells me I CAN have it all. Maybe it is simply that I put my identity in how happy my husband and children are. Truth be told, I buy into all of these statements on some level. In reality when I desire to have the “normal” family or the “perfect” Christmas, the only way to achieve the illusion of success is to strive. Strive to create a beautiful home, a delicious meal, an atmosphere of peace. The problem with striving is that it’s really my sinful nature taking over. It’s a lack of faith, a lack of trusting God. It’s a lack of acknowledging that God is ruler of my life. I know I have crossed over into striving by the condition of my heart. When I am surrendering the results of my labor to God there is peace. When I feel frustrated or disappointed, then it is not about Jesus at all, it’s about me not getting what I want. Let me say that again, when I desire good things for myself and my family and those desires become striving to achieve, it’s not about Jesus. Even at Christmas. Especially at Christmas.
Please keep reading! There is hope, there is joy! In seeing truth there is freedom! This truth of the condition of my heart allows me to see God’s grace in even greater measure. When I surrender the desires of my heart to Jesus He responds to me in abundance. I did not experience a Brady Bunch Christmas. Praise God! In the time with my family I saw the face of God as we sat down to a meal with lumpy mashed potatoes. I saw the face of God as we played Monopoly and fought over what are “house rules” and what are “official rules”. I saw the face of God as we sat in the living room each looking at our own electronic devices. I saw the face of God because He loves us unconditionally. He has no requirements of perfection because He is perfect. When He sees me striving He wraps His arms around me and assures me that I am His daughter. He desires for me to respond with gratitude. When I am grateful I am filled with joy and peace that can’t be manufactured by any human effort. I am overwhelmed by His love for me once again.