I’m a work in progress. I was a bit of a pushy, bossy porcupine for a long time, intent on controlling my world and all the hurtful things in it. Every day, I work toward being different and walking the difficult road to change people’s expectations of me. Christmas is a huge chance to demonstrate a shift in my heart towards humility and gentleness.
1 John 1:7 ESV “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
My house is decked with lights and holiday greenery, wreaths and stockings hung with care, but it’s all window dressing if my heart isn’t set on reflecting the light of Christ. And, let me tell you, God is definitely giving me lots of chances to practice my obedience and devotion to Him through loving my family this year, or even just this week!
Christmas is MY favorite time of year, while my husband does his best to pretend he isn’t a scrooge with all the stress of shopping and worrying about money and making people happy. Warming his heart to the real meaning of Christmas has to start with demonstrating CHRIST in Christmas and being intentional about the environment of our home. How can I love him with a generous spirit? With quiet kindness and invitation rather than expectations and perfectionism.
I’m finding little ways daily to do that, rather than get caught up in just the decorative trappings.
For example, like having a good attitude and a servant’s heart when my plans get rear-ended by the army. I learned about his “office” Christmas party very last-minute, and even more last-minute that I was to prepare a side dish and three dozen cookies for an exchange. I had a couple of slips of irritation, but I could choose to adapt and overcome or cause an argument and bitter feelings. It says a lot about the work God is doing on my heart that I could see his need for me to be cheery and relaxed, so I was, because I love him, instead of holding onto my “right” to be upset that my weekend wasn’t going my way.
1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV “Let all that you do be done in love.”
As I baked and cooked, my husband spent most of the day resting on the couch. While I was feeling like my to-do list for Christmas was growing with every thought, it was hard for me to watch him doing nothing. It took quite a bit of self-control to keep my tongue quiet. I could see a long list of things that needed his attention, but rather than react with my panic over what wouldn’t get finished, I quietly struggled with my attitude in prayer.
And God gave me the heart not to see my to-do list, but my husband’s “what I’ve done list.” He was wiped out from working 18-hour days, weekends, and nights. I realized what a tiny gift a few hours of quiet really was, and how simply I could give that with grace, not bitterness.
Romans 15:1 ESV “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”
In that moment, I needed to find the compassion to be strong. Other days, his strength and energy have carried me through. A few days later, my husband was able to tell me how exhausted he had been, and how much he needed that rest, even though it wasn’t really enough. He really appreciated those precious hours in which he had no demands placed on him, a very rare time he didn’t have to be moving at warp speed.
Leviticus 19:34 ESV “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself . . .”
Trying to have a Godly attitude, I imagined how I could love him as I would like to be loved. Convicted that my heart needing adjusting, I finished the baking and cooking without saying a word, letting him rest.
So, not a single present is wrapped, I haven’t even finished shopping, the stockings are going to be full of candy and not much else, cookies may or may not get baked, and no one is getting a Christmas card this year. I could look at all these things as failures, but in them I see a woman who realized how I act is way more important than how much I get done, and if that means some things don’t get done, God sees, he understands. And I think he’s way more impressed with my heart than my hearth.
I am not the light, but I am learning to be a reflection of the light by learning how to truly love those around me, by seeing them with the same eyes that offered me grace and the gift of Jesus Christ.