Friday, December 7, 2007

Holiday Thoughts

For so long, Chad and I did double and triple duty on the holidays. We would wake early prepare whatever it was we were supposed to bring, get everything together and begin a long day of visiting family. Most of the time, we enjoyed ourselves once we got there, but the stress of getting there was overwhelming. Especially since this was during the time when Chad was the sickest. We would come home exhausted and by the end of the day, ready to be done with the Christmas season.

Once Chloe came along, we tried to scale back a little on the traveling, but were often made to feel guilty if we didn't get everyone in. We kept up the double and triple duty until Emma came along. We knew that there was no way we could keep up the hectic schedule, it wasn't fair to the children. We knew we had to form some new traditions. For some, they completely understood and supported us and even figured out a better time to get together. For others, tradition of the "day" is worshipped and they could not understand.

The longer I'm "grown up", the more I appreciate my family and the environment my parents and grandparents created for us as children. ALL of our holidays were spent with both sets of grandparents at my parents home. No one bickered, there was no competition. Everyone was comfortable. Things weren't always perfect, but everyone felt safe and loved for who they were and what they brought to our family. I believe it was like that because we spent time together all through the year, not just holidays.

I know first hand that not all families have this type of relationship. That makes me so sad. It's as if the holidays roll around and everyone feels sentimental. We feel guilty for that lack of relationship during the year and try to cram a years worth of visits and bonding into the few weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years. I don't get it. We spend excessive amounts of money trying to "connect" with the family we haven't taken the time to invest in all year. All this creates is an environment of stress.

I've listened to so many people tell me how much they stress during the holidays and 90% of the time, it goes back to family dynamics. Our family included. Isn't that sad. But you know what, we treat Jesus the same way.

We bless Him with our presence on Sunday and maybe Wednesday if we can work Him into our schedules. Occasionally we talk to Him (call) during the week, just checking in seeing how things are going, but mostly we just make small talk. In those quick conversations we really don't listen to Him. We're too consumed and focused on all the stuff in our life to really care about what He has to say. As much as He wants us to, we don't include Him.

Then a crisis (holidays) rolls around. We need Him in a big way. We start praying(calling) more and more. We tell Him what our plans are and expect Him to go along with them. We do a whole lot of talking, but still don't listen. We then have the audacity to question where He's been, or why He allowed something to happen.

We didn't take the time to invest in our relationship before the crisis (during the year), so we really don't know much about Him. We don't understand His ways. We aren't comfortable because we know that we are guilty of neglecting this relationship.

Once the crisis (holiday) passes, we get back to our "normal" life. Throw ourselves into work or friendships, all the places where we are comfortable . We fall back into the routine of occasional visits and brief conversations. Until next year....

Potentially, this is a never ending cycle, passed down from generation to generation. Just like some of you we have family issues that continue to raise their ugly head during the holidays. We are praying for change. This year, only through God's stops.

Colossians 3:12-17
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


BethAnne said...

I think it is so important to keep stress out of Christmas because our kids watch every move we make. When we stress over parties, presents, money, trips we are sending our kids a contrary message. We are constantly saying Christmas is about Jesus not about presents, but our stress tells them the opposite. It is easier said than done to de-stress, but so necessary not just for our relationship with Jesus but for our kids' relationship with Him

Heather said...

It is sad all the stress we put on ourselves at christmas. we are trying our best to scale down as well!

Darla said...

Steph! Girlfriend you so hit this one out of the park! woooohooooo! I just love you! I am mailing something you are waiting for this weekend! It came!! You should have it early in the are so very precious to me! Princess to Princess

BTW-THe King is enthralled with your beauty!! :)

Carol said...

This was a powerful one Steph. Thanks!

Fran said...

Pour some peace over me Jesus...and don't let it stop. Keep it coming!

Thank you Steph. Christmas is truly about Him and the joy and love we have for Him. I'm growing up alot too about seeing what is really important in these weeks to come.

I'm meeting my mom in the "city" for shopping today....lets see if that stress is absent! :)

Blessings Stephanie,

Anonymous said...

Peace, that is what I am seeking this Christmas. That is what I want to model in front of my kids. The Lord has really been doing a work in my heart this season regarding His peace and what that really means to me and my family. It's already made the difference in my stress level.