So, Christmas is … let me check the calendar… four days away now. I marvel at how the days of December seem to unravel faster than any month before it, but I really believe it does. And for some, you know what it is. ‘The most wonderful time of the year’. And for our family, it is a very meaningful and full season. We have purposed to Have an Imperfect Christmas-time, and our traditions are a little different than the most, I suppose. So we kind of put our imperfect hands to the task of making it as low-key, yet meaningful – worshipful – as possible. Singly-focused Christmastime.
And yet I know. There are many – so many – who do not feel the joy this season. Feel burned out, overwhelmed. Some are worse – heartsick, lonely. Crushed.
And all along the One who was crushed for us stands by, never leaving our side.
But sometimes we feel as if he’s leading us through the desert, like those maggi following the star to who knows where?
I have felt it. The parched, emptiness. The bogged down mire.
But I know a few things that help a worn-down soul. Help pull one up from the muck… help lift the head and heart, even as the feet are still finding their way out.
1. Just Keep Doing It.
This is the hardest when we feel we are set up to fail – like just accomplishing the minimum of each day is humanly impossible. Too much for one soul. Just keep doing it. – Keep trying to have the quiet time, even when the baby wakes up early too.
– Keep trying to teach that young one, even when he doesn’t get it – again.
– Keep cleaning up those messes, because that’s then we’re most like the One who came to serve, instead of be served.
– Keep working at that thing that has been tasked to you – the only one in the universe who’s been asked to do just that.
Even when you fail. Just keep doing it. Because how many greatly successful – greatly influential – people failed numerous time before they got it right? And were used even in the midst of their failures?
Because the enemy loves to whisper to us that we are a failure. But soul, God has put His spirit in you, and will cause you to follow Him. And that will be our greatest accomplishment ever.
2. Let Go
Lose Your Idea of Perfect
Because I promise ‘perfect’ doesn’t look anything like Pinterest. Or well-crafted snippets of life displayed on social media. Perfect looks like a bloody mess taking the fall for humanity. Perfect looks like gentleness and grace when it certainly isn’t merited. And Perfect looks like getting on your knees and taking dirty feet into your own hands.
I get it. There’s something in me too that wants the beautifully assembled gingerbread houses and well-groomed, cheerful children smiling over their professionally iced thirteen-dozen sugar cookies, which we will disperse to our neighbors while caroling in harmony on Christmas Eve, just as snowflakes begin to fall.
Let it go.
I desperately want the house tidily picked up. The task completed well. The one-hour time to myself at daybreak in un-interrupted prayer and Bible study.
Let it go.
Learn to have moments of praise in the midst of the chaos. Like not long ago, when Chris Tomlin’s ‘Angel Army’ popped up on Pandora and my heart wanted to burst. Sometimes you have to stand there with eyes closed and heart & hands lifted upward – you have to worship – and let the kids scream and the baby wrap herself around your leg, and the mess be made and the tantrum rage – until that tiny spark of worship is fulfilled. All played out to the fullest. Those moments in the imperfection are a gift to you – accept them with joy!
3. Do Whatever It Takes
Soul, get your priorities straight. And I have a suspicion that the most important things are few, and they don’t have anything to do with extra activities or social outings (or media) or finally seeing the bottom of my laundry basket. I have a hunch that the most important things are maybe the ones we’ve overlooked for so long. Get alone with the Lord and get your priorities straight (hint: they are His priorities) and then do whatever it takes to keep them first. Like when I looked myself in the proverbial mirror and realized I will cheerfully get up early to meet a friend or go on vacation, but I make lame excuses for not getting up early to meet with my Savior.
4. Enjoy the Bumpy Ride
Because more every day, I realize the silver-haired ladies who stop me in the grocery store are right – this time of being young and having young – it’s so very fleeting. Every day I grow more desperate to make the time stop. I will my eyes to remember their smooth skin and the chubbiness of that hand… I will my ears to remember how he used to say ‘I yike dat’. Instead of cursing the bumps in the day, climb back to the back row of the bus and remember how fun it is to hit the potholes.
They will remember how you rode the roughest times.
And when you fail at how you handle the roughest rides? Go back to number one.