I love the holidays, I really do. Anyone who knows me knows my priorities in life are faith and family. But if I’m honest, there is usually a tiny part of me that can’t wait for it all to be over.
Why? Because for a introverted, to-do list clutching, over-thinker, Christmas can be overwhelming.
For me, getting through the month of December feels like running a marathon (caveat here: I’ve never really run one, I’m just guessing). You start out excited only to find yourself getting a little tired about a third of the way through. Yet you keep on trucking, and next thing you know you’re seriously considering the fact that you just might really die from exhaustion. But alas you don’t, and then all of a sudden, you find you’re crossing the finish line with a sense of elation. Next thing you know, you’ve collapsed on the ground in a colossal heap.
This is what I don’t like about the holiday season.
The tasks of Christmas-the cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, waiting in line, waiting in traffic, and running out of tape at 9pm the night before the night before Christmas-all really get to me. Sometimes I just wish I could run away (this cabin would be perfect!).
Can you imagine staying here? An introvert’s dream! 😉
I surely don’t want to feel like this. I don’t want to be a Negative Nancy/Tracy. I don’t welcome the irritation that rises up when the slow lady in front of me clogs up the aisle at Target. And as a Christian, I for sure don’t want to be crabby in this most important season. But each year it happens, that is until God steps in. It goes something like this:
I hit December with my feet running. I shop. I bake. I send cards. I participate in extra activities, buy clothes and food for the needy, and and take on way too much. Then, I get tired and whine to God (pretty bold of me, all things considered). God, I imagine, just rolls his eyes and whispers to himself, ‘Here we go again…’ But never does he let me down.
Instead God throws me a rope, provides a little perspective to get me through the season. This year, he got a handle on me early, through the words in a book by Max Lucado.
(This is how I picture the sky looking when God speaks to my heart.)
My bible study group is reading Because of Bethlehem by Max Lucado. Lucado is a witty Texan pastor with a plethora of books to his name (nearly 100 according to Wikipedia). This particular book shares the story of how Jesus came to Bethlehem (and to us) in an unexpected way and in the midst of chaos. Now to this I can relate.
Because of Bethlehem is Max Lucado’s newest book.
I’ve read Lucado before and always enjoy his entertaining writing style. But what struck me in this book was Lucado’s suggestions for how to find peace amidst the chaos. Yes! Peace! Go Max! This is what I’m always seeking in the holiday season.
One action item he recommends is to ditch the to-do list for a to-be list. “We often get caught up in the busyness of doing,” says Lucado, “Time is short, and our to-do lists are long, especially during the holidays.” Sounds like my life… Lucado then asks the reader the following question, “How might it change your experience of Advent this year if you were to make your priority being-the person you want to become-instead of doing?” He then suggests the reader make a list of all they want to be.
And so I did. Just making the list has quieted my heart and mind. Made me excited about this busy, celebratory season. Given me peace. So I’m happy to tell you that for the first time in years, I am not running the race in December. I will not do Christmas, instead I will just be.
And because I’m either brave or stupid, today I’m sharing my to-be list with you.
Tracy’s Christmas 2016 To-Be List
*I want to be a person who delights in the holiday season, appreciating the traditions of twinkling Christmas lights, holiday music, and gift-giving.
I want to be a person who makes sure her family and friends know, without question, just how much they are loved.
I want to be kind, patient, content and centered amidst the chaos. (Even when I’m the 8th customer in the one open lane at Walmart and it seems like Christmas will come before I get through the line-no one said this would be easy).
I want to be cognizant of God’s plan for and gift of eternal grace. What an amazing gift it is.
I want to be still before God, each day, not just on Sunday.
I want to be a friendly and encouraging face to others. We all need this.
I want to be less self-centered and more other-centered. This is hard, and I will fail time and time again. But a girl can try, right?
So much of my stress during the holidays is self-imposed. When I put focus on getting things done instead of being present, I lose sight of myself and get crabby. I forget the entire purpose of the season. I miss seeing the blessings God pours down over me. Not this year.
It’s December 7th and I’ve barely touched my to-do list. But it’s okay, the good news is this: I’m a little easier to be around this season. Definitely more at peace. And somehow, I know that what really needs to get done, will get done. I may never get around to sending out cards, but somehow I think God doesn’t mind so much.
Happiest of Holidays to you, lovely readers!