FIRMLY PLANTED ◽ ENCOURAGEMENT
As the months of fall slide toward the end of the year, a bubbling mix of thoughts and feelings stir within me. Each year I try harder to slow down the season and savor the journey as the year races to the finish line.
The Thanksgiving-Christmas season is overwhelmingly busy, especially for someone who needs a lot of solitude, quiet, and an open schedule. Time leaps from one weekend to the next. Trying to manage get-togethers, fairs, strolls, lights, dinners, shopping, decorating—on top of normal everyday life—I’m like a leaf spinning in a whirlwind. Shopping (for anything!) is like weaving through narrow canyons with walls that scream trivia and consumerism on every side—and it starts before I’m even thinking about Christmas. During the transitional month of November, it’s not unusual to see contradictory Halloween and Christmas decor displayed right next to each other. The things my heart wants to do to enjoy the season clash with the things I feel compelled to do for the wrong reasons. So many demands and so little time! I feel disgusted with the shallow world, and I don’t want to play the game.
How can I stop the whirlwind?
How I can replace the blur of too much too fast too late with
clarity, calm, and peace? How can I be true to what matters?
Over the years, I’ve made some headway: decorating and Christmas cards have fallen to the bottom of the priority list—I do what I can when I can if I can; my family and I agree on a minimized gift-giving plan during Thanksgiving; I make time for activities with friends, knowing I can’t attend every gathering; I celebrate Christ by bringing Him into the conversation when possible, and giving more. When I have to shop, my self-talk is, “This is good for the economy” and, “Many small business owners can prosper because of this season.” Instead of groaning and complaining about everything, I try to “give thanks in everything.”
Even though our culture seems to twist and wring the real meaning out of the “holiday season;” even though Jesus wasn’t born on the exact day of Christmas; even if it’s commercialized, idolized, supersized, and paganized...it’s possible to have peace and enjoy the season.
When my actions are dictated by an inner prompting rather than outside pressures, the result is peace. Because of God’s grace, the “supposed to” list is a weight I don’t carry anymore—I’m free to follow a different path. Peace comes when my eyes are open to Truth instead of empty traditions and unrealistic pretense because knowing keeps me grounded. Behind the santas, reindeer, cherubs, and flashing lights is the reality of Jesus every day of the year. Despite appearances, which focus our thinking on one day of celebration following weeks of frantic preparation, the truth is that every day is a day to be thankful, and every day is a day to celebrate Jesus.
Savoring the journey, for me, is enjoying the lights, the plays, concerts, and time with friends and family. Out of the ordinary giving reminds me of God’s greatest gift to us—the Light of the World who gives us his peace, and will one day bring peace to the world.