Let's talk - holiday expectations. Yes, it's a fun topic - one that I've been discussing with friends and family all week.
It's time to keep these puppies at bay, call them out for what they are and call out what this season is really about so we can enjoy the holiday approaching.
So -- we all know what it's like to feel disappointed at the holidays. Maybe we don't get the gift we wanted. Maybe we don't get to see the family member we wanted. Maybe the loved one we want at the table has passed away. Maybe that call we wanted to have with a loved one just makes us realize that at this moment the relationship isn't all that great. Maybe it won't ever be, and that is a tough pill to swallow when Christmas is "supposed to be" about love and joy and happiness!!!! Right?
Um, right NO. That's the problem. The media over-glamorizes the holiday pretending everyone else has it perfect and sets us up for massive disappointment. We get upset when our holiday looks less like "It's a Wonderful Life" and more like "The Family Stone" (my favorite Christmas movie). But we do not have to buy into it. We can believe in and realize what this holiday is about. One thing. One SINGLE thing.
Jesus was born in a manger because there was no room at the inn. Mary probably would have loved to have had a lot more, but she accepted God's will that this was how the Messiah would come into the world. Can you imagine? This video that I watched the other day may help you realize the magnitude of this. Watch it if you've got 2 minutes to reflect on Jesus's birth. In fact, try to watch it no matter what.
What it reminded me of is this: no matter how we want this holiday to go and what actually happens - the one truth STANDS.
Jesus is the REASON for the season.
No gifts. No decorations. No meals prepared. No human expectations. It is really just not, about us or what we DO. It's about who he IS.
And that's what we have to remember. When the going gets tough (the tough get going, Billy Ocean) this holiday, we have to keep our God at the forefront of our minds because HE will fill those holes we feel are in our hearts when we're sad this season. Those holes are exactly where the people in our life ARE NOT supposed to fill us, but HE is. When people disappoint, we must remember that he does NOT. The holiday is all about how he became human so he could die on the cross for us! Do you realize that he was human too, and GETS what it's like to feel and be hurt? That's some seriously powerful stuff.
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Remember that God sacrificed his ONLY son. Also, when we feel like we're going to perish because we hurt so much, the Bible says right there if we believe - We will not perish but have eternal life!
My husband and I are going out East to see my family and I'm very excited. The miracle of getting to be with my Mom AND husband this holiday gets me choked up just thinking about it. Truly, it is proof that God works all things together for the good of those who love them - and I know he's not done yet. Where she and I have come from? 7 years ago we were fighting on Christmas Eve. Oh and you'll never believe what started it, "This isn't how Christmas is supposed to be. " HA! Expectations. Right there. 5 years ago we weren't speaking. My heart missed her deeply. 4 years ago, my first Christmas without Dad she left me a Merry Christmas message and THAT was a miracle. This year, we are literally going to stay with her. You should have seen my husband's face when I told him that she found something for him for Christmas. We get to chuckle about the miracle of God's redemption together. ONLY GOD.
But ya know what? It certainly isn't going to be perfect! I'm sure we'll drive each other a bit nuts. Not only that, we are just different people so we have different ways of being! And that's okay. My mom and I have learned to love and accept each other right where we are and (tears again!) God is with us.
So just remember, even if I or anyone else posts a cute picture on Instagram, it doesn't mean there isn't pain behind the picture. Social media is deceiving as you and I both know. But, it does allow us to highlight the good moments, and that is a good thing.
But I know for me? Even if the holiday goes well, I will still hurt. I will still hurt because I will miss my Dad like all get out; as I do every year. I will miss my little brother. We'll miss the kids who will be with their Mom and we'll miss Mike's Dad as Mike goes through his second Christmas without him. Hurt will be there! But we will do this...
We will do our best to BE where our feet are. We will be present to exactly what God is doing. We will trust whatever season of life he's got us in because he is doing what only he can do, and we can't see.
SO - as soon as you feel frustrated, do an expectations check and don't go there. Catch yourself. "I am going down the expectations road and I'm going to crash." The expectation road doesn't end with a grand view. Realistic expectations. Giving it all you got. Bringing the joy. Making a meal for your family, being okay if you burn something and laughing about it. These are the things that create the great memories. The imperfections of the holiday.
Just think about that scene in "The Family Stone" when they are in the kitchen and the casserole hits the floor (like the ____ hits the fan) and Sarah Jessica Parker unleashes, "What's so great about you guys?" and Diane Keaton responds with, "Nothing, it's just that we're all we've got!" (Here's a little tease below).
And finally one very BIG (or shall we say one very LITTLE reminder) - remember WHO this holiday is about friends!!! When you freak out just cry out to Jesus. HE is the single greatest present for each of us. No present compares. Say his name 10 times in a row to get you out of your head. There is POWER in the name of Jesus. (Listen to this if you aren't sure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoOJwel1CQU)
When it comes down to it - Christmas is a simple, POWERFUL reminder of the birth of our Savior. It's the chance to recognize how very blessed we are to have His great love - cause it is better than anything we can get here on this earth.
So my friends - I hope you have an awesomely imperfect, real, safe, enjoyable and FUN holiday. Stay tuned for an awesome video I'm writing to kick off your year of 2016.
Oh and a little bonus - this is my Christmas JAM this year. "For the Lord has done GREAT things. Christ the LORD!!! Let all the earth REJOICE!" I love it. I'm writing this blog to it, so enjoy it ;)
Merry Merry Merry Christmas! Love - Mere (haha)