|photo by Jennifer Upton|
For the 2013 holiday season, I am hosting a blog series called Hurting for the Holidays. Twenty-six amazing guest writers are sharing their hearts, hurts, and helps to help those of us who carry an internal ache to navigate this celebratory season. Find all posts in the series here, and participate via social media through the hashtag #HurtingfortheHolidays.
As I write this, it is not even Thanksgiving yet and my head is already spinning with December schedules and my to-do list is mounting. The hamster-wheel of Christmas craziness is quickening and I am out of breath too soon. But, as my mind swirls with reds and greens, turkey and tinsel, a familiar melody, enchanting in its otherness, entices me to find its source and follow its rhythm. Because I recognize it, it’s cadence like flowing waters, and oh how I’ve missed hearing it, I pause long. And I hear the whisper of a glorious question.
“What if you stepped off of the wheel?”
Again: “What if you stepped off of the wheel?” In a knowing voice, as if to remind me that I don’t have to be here, like this. Ragged and worn. For what? Expectations and traditions? “Oh, dear one, dance with me, will you?”
I turn toward the invitation to see Him, the One who knows me deep. I exhale, and I crumple overcome as I remember again the why of Christmas. “It is You. It is You! It has always been You!” My screaming insides release only whispers and I cry.
He lifts my chin and draws me in again, “Dance with me dear one. Let me lead you.”
Were it not for this opportunity to post on my dear friend’s blog, I might not have paused to consider. I might have ignored the longing within me to celebrate and remember this wondrous gift of God Himself without all the chaos wrecking it.
Christmas culture has become so distracting, hasn’t it? We’ve been bombarded by the parties, the food, the endless advertisements and the prodding to spend exorbitant amounts of money on things we don’t really need. I love the gifts, the food and the traditions. I do. But, too often the pace of it all leaves us without a moment to revel in the wondrously unlikely truth of Christmas -- that God came here, found us and made us His own. That is what I want to celebrate.
All this got me thinking. What would it look like if I stepped off of the wheel this year?
So in honor of the season of lists, I made (another) one of my own. A list of ways I can reclaim what my heart longs for this Christmas. I would love to:
- Set aside sacred space ahead of time for quietness and respectfully decline any invitations that interfere
- Give heartfelt cards to friends and co-workers instead of gifts
- Be home more
- Celebrate Advent
- Tell my son the story of the gift of baby Jesus, God with Us, and try to reconcile how this translates into a jolly guy squeezing down the chimney to give him gifts without ruining the fun. Wish me luck
- Resist the urge to buy, buy, buy while still finding creative ways to give, give, give
- Spend resources on those in need instead of being so “spent” that I don’t even see them
- Remember those that hurt during the Holidays for all kinds of reasons
- Keep open eyes to the people around me and take the time to connect with them, not bump into them
- Speak the thought behind “it’s the thought that counts” instead of saying it less clearly with a gift someone probably won’t want
- Soak in people and moments and stop stressing over things that don’t matter as much
- Forgo sending a Christmas card because it stresses me out
- Take time to cultivate a thankful and peaceful heart
- Give the gift of authenticity by resisting the need to present myself well and instead present my real self
My point, I guess, is this. It is our choice how we celebrate this Season. If I want to remain true to what I believe is God-breathed in me, I must be intentional.
This Holiday Season, I choose to remain mindful of Jesus- who I believe is God’s most loving expression of Himself. I choose to slow and remember and have the courage to say no to things that keep me from that end.
If you are so inclined, you can join me by arranging your own priorities this Christmas to reflect what is important to your heart. And please know, friend, that this requires no apologies. He is infinitely interested in your enjoyment of Him and He fashioned the very ways you long to express it.
Celebrating with you,
I love my dear friend Minde's heart. I echo God's question to her back to you -- what would it look like if you stepped off the wheel this year? How might you reclaim what your heart longs for, as Minde wrote?
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Minde Meng is a wife, mom, and dentist who journals, blogs, and doodles in effort to process her meandering thoughts. She recently found she loves to create things too- messy things- especially with brightly colored paint. Jesus has faithfully led and faithfully leads her through the chaos of work and motherhood and for this unspeakable grace, she is thankful. She writes about this journey of finding God through the tangles of work, motherhood and life in general at www.mengmommy.wordpress.com.