A few years ago, I set myself up for some epic Christmas failure. December had finally arrived. The hope and joy of the Christmas season lay spread before me as thoughts of maximizing holiday fun and education swirled through my head.
I envisioned handmade gifts and peaceful evenings at home near the brightly lit tree, my husband walking our children through the Christmas Adventure Box advent plan.
Yes, I fell prey to Pinterest Syndrome, quite deadly to a mama’s often already shaky confidence. It all began with a few deceptively simple ideas and grew into a nasty and surprisingly strong anticipation of all things good and no things ordinary…. or, heaven forbid, even bad.
My Christmas expectations soared to incredible heights, destined to plummet at the first sign of potential failure. And here I thought I was creating a “simple” Christmas this year (I’ll forgive you if you snicker a little at this point.)
In my defense, the holiday season was progressing suspiciously well for our family. Thanksgiving came and went with no major incidents, and everyone was healthy for the moment, a rare winter treat in a family of six.
My husband and I even managed to put up the Christmas tree and lights with no arguing and minimal frustration, despite the circus of craziness that four enthusiastic children create when forced to wait.
We had conquered a pattern of holiday frustration for the first time in years!
The Holiday Hypocrite
Then somewhere along the line, life began to get very real. Our youngest son, four years old at the time, decided the holiday season would be a good time to test our parental authority in various, publicly humiliating places.
Our budget grew tight.
I stressed about all of The Things on my list.
On top of all of that, we became suddenly busy with all of the typical holiday concerts and programs and gatherings. Not exactly the peace I had anticipated.
And it was all fun and good and mostly necessary, but it does make one a little weary…
For the most part, I was able to maintain the joy and hope of the season, after all there was a lot of sweet memory-making sprinkled into the mix. But I held onto a dark secret.
After all of the praise and promise of the Christmas Adventure Box that I shared with you previously, we didn’t even manage to do it this year! At all.
Nothing. Nada. Zip.
It just didn’t happen.
In fact, we only managed to hang onto a few of our typical holiday traditions. I didn’t even attempt to mail out Christmas cards or get a family portrait.
I felt like a failure, no worse – a holiday hypocrite!
My carefully planned and highly anticipated season of hope and joy crumbled before me. The disappointment that followed was slightly bitter and came with a side dose of viral illness, as well as over a foot of snow, that kept us cooped up at home for weeks.
I could have written about it, but to be honest, I felt unworthy. So like most hypocrites, I hid from you all. I quit writing. I quit taking pictures.
I made excuses and planned to resume in the new year. And when I finally succumbed to the viral plague making the rounds in our home, I wallowed in my misery.
For a few days, God and I were barely on speaking terms.
I wasn’t just disappointed about failing to do advent as a family – after all, sometimes as mamas we have to pare life down to the nitty gritty in order to survive with sanity (and with a family who still wants to be around us). My disappointment came more from my hiding away in blogger shame and silence.
The thing is that I believe in Grace, I really do.
I’m very aware that without Grace, I’d be a hopeless mess. Even with Grace I still have nothing to boast about except for a God who gives second chances, and third, and fourth, to infinity and eternity, a God who loves me deeply for who I am, not for who the world thinks I should be, a God who through the blood of Jesus, sees the best version of me even when I’m acting my worst.
But like many mamas, I have a hard time extending that grace to my own messy self.
So, I confess: I’ve been a Holiday Hypocrite.
In fact, I could be called an everyday hypocrite, too, because I’m far from perfect. I still lose my temper. I still forget important events and birthday cards.
I still argue with my husband and become impatient with my children. I’m still selfish with my time. I’m still prideful. I still say “no” to the Holy Spirit in so many ways.
I’m still learning who God made me to be.
But that’s the beauty of our journey in Christ, friends, that we get chance after chance to do things differently.
Those failures we feel so deeply are not the end of the story. We are given an abundance of opportunities to let our Father God change who we are, from the inside out. And that good work He began in saving us from a life of sin, He promises to continue to the very end (Phil. 1:6). We can have complete confidence in that!
So, keep up the good work, friends, even if your holidays fails to live up to your expectations.
Fight the good fight.
Run the good race.
And when you fail or fall, let Him pick your hypocritical self back up again and hold you for a while, heal your wounds if needed, and send you off on your way. Not alone, for He runs alongside you.
Don’t let those fiery darts from the Enemy bog you down, not now, but put on the full armor of God and stand firm in your faith.
No more hiding away, no more pretending to be something we are not, no more fearing what the world thinks.
Instead, let’s embrace our work-in-progress status and the indescribable hope that it affords.
Not to us, Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.
Praise be to His Name!
For further reading: https://arabahjoy.com/uncommon-spiritual-discipline/
A very timely message. Thanks for being vulnerable enough to share.
Praise God for how he takes our difficult times and uses even those for His glory! I’m thankful to know these words resonated with you.