by Carolyn Miller
Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and peace and harmony, isn’t it? That’s what the movies and TV shows say. That’s the gist of a million Christmas songs. That’s what all that pretty packaging and gift-buying is really supposed to be getting us.
But sometimes life can’t be tied up in a bow. Sometimes Christmas is not so very cheery because relationships are messier than that, our hearts (my heart!) are way more complicated than that. And the holiday season can bring it out all the more as the pressures of money and time and dealing with people we rarely see can start to eat away at our peace—and all the more after a year that many would agree has been tougher than most.
- Clean the Clutter
So much of what we think is important really isn’t. If we take a step back and look at things, we see that if those special cookies I’ve made every year don’t happen, then it doesn’t really matter. Same with decorations. I have to ask myself if the stress of doing certain things a certain way is really because of my pride, that I want to appear to have things all together to those around me. I don’t think God cares too much about what our houses look like, but I know He’s interested in the state of my heart. Too often I let little things become much bigger than they ought to be, so my challenge is to let God clean the clutter of my heart so my motives are not contaminated with pride.
- Quit the Comparisons
So much of my internal heart clutter stems from this, and too often it stems from forgetting a simple truth: God loves us. I can know this in my head, but apparently my heart needs a regular reminder that God loves me. That He has good plans for me. That He is faithful to keep His promises. If I know this, deep within, I’m far less likely to worry about what others think, or compare myself to them. If I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am loved by God, then it enables me to treat those around me with the love and grace I have recently experienced. So I am going to be intentional about connecting with God more deeply this December—to take moments at the start of each day and, whenever I feel the panic rise, to instead be still and know that God loves me and is working things out for my good. Take a deep breath in and release it slowly, remembering God loves us. And the next time I feel tempted to compare myself? Remember God loves me—and He loves them too—so pray a blessing over them and see my heart soften as it aligns more with God’s will.
- Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
Christmas is actually about Jesus, isn’t it? The birth of our Savior, born in a humble stable, the hope and light of the world. So amidst all the busyness, take time to reflect on that. In the midst of decorating and cooking and relating with others, make sure there is time for God. Reflect on what being saved really means. Ask God for opportunities to share the love and hope of God to others, and pray that our words are laced with courage and grace. If my heart is filled with thankfulness for what God has done, then it spills out so others can be encouraged too. So even with the tricky relationships—those people we struggle to even like sometimes, let alone love—my goal is to remember to live the message of Jesus, and ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to be a reconciler in this world. After all, the birth of Jesus Christ is not something to stress about—He came so we can have peace. So as far as it depends on me, I intend to live at peace with others, and share the good news of Jesus with my world.
So from my family here in my small town in Australia to you, may God bless you this Christmas!
Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A long-time lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Visit her website www.carolynmillerauthor.com to see pictures from her travels in England and to sign up for her newsletter, and say g’day at www.facebook.com/CarolynMillerAuthor where she loves to connect with readers.
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