It’s Christmas time. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, should be ever-present and mightily reigning in our hearts and minds this time of year, yes?
The joy of being with friends and family, observing faithful traditions, creating new memories, and celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ought to make for a relaxed and enjoyable season, should it not?
Yet, according to an article written for the Washington Post in 2013, although “it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year…for women, it can also be the most overwhelming”.
The author points to a survey done by the American Psychological Association which concludes that “More women than men feel stressed at Christmas — and have a harder time relaxing and enjoying the season.”
Why? According to the article, women feel more of a compulsion [than men] to “create rituals and follow traditions, [to] demonstrate that we care for one another, and that this caring has permanence, history and a pattern that will persist”.
It’s also out of habit – because it’s what we experienced as a child, “as did generations of [our] family” before us.
Additionally, we’re lead to believe that it’s what is “expected” of us – “just look at the December issues of Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens in any grocery store check-out line”, the article reminds us, “with calm and perfectly coiffed women showing off their Nutter Butter reindeer or hand-crafted gumdrop wreaths. Or the Wal-Mart ads that proclaim: ‘Mom, you own this season’…the sentiment is the same: We expect Christmas to be more magical than ever – and Mom is the one responsible for creating that magic.”
Author, Brigid Schulte, talks about the strain she experienced during the Christmas season: “For years, my sister and I have had a long talk on the phone on Christmas Eve. At 2 a.m., while frantically wrapping the last of the presents. This, of course, comes after we’ve shopped, decorated, addressed teetering stacks of Christmas cards and generally fried ourselves trying to create that holiday magic…Before hanging up, we exchange our own holiday wish: “Merry Stressmas.”
Whew! No wonder so many of us feel frazzled, worn out, uptight, on edge, unhappy, and even depressed during the holiday season. With all of that pressure, who wouldn’t?
this is not how it should be.
If the Christmas season has left you feeling unglued, unbalanced – perhaps a little crazed, then perhaps you’ve lost sight of the truth.
Did you know that the definition of insanity is not “doing the same thing over and over with hope for a different result”? Insanity is actually a legal term pertaining to a defendant’s ability to determine right from wrong when a crime is committed…
“Since the Fall”, Dr. Robert Kellemen of RPM Ministries tells us, “life is not just one grand narrative. It is a competition between two grand narratives that each vie for our attention and commitment. Satan’s grand narrative is filled with lies, self (self-sufficiency, selfishness, self-effort), works, and condemnation, while Christ’s grand narrative is filled with truth, God (Christ-sufficiency), others, faith, grace, and forgiveness” (Gospel Conversations, p.191).
As I thought more about this, I was reminded of the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42, where we see these two narratives so vividly played out:
“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Dear sister, which narrative are you believing this Christmas season?
The one that says, “I have to continue on with Christmas preparations and traditions whether they work for me and my household or not.” “I will hand make and bake and shop and decorate and entertain because it is all my responsibility after all, and no one else cares about it!” “I will dutifully execute the office ‘MOM’ no matter how miserable and disconsolate and ill-humored towards everyone else I feel because it’s what I am supposed to do.”
Or the one that says, “God the Father is reconciled to [me], and graciously inclined to [me], and merciful and powerful for the sake of his dear Son” (Martin Luther) and so I am free to love and serve God and others to the glory of God this Christmas season (1 Cor. 10:31). I can extend grace and forgiveness to my family, especially when it seems that they are not caring for me or doing enough to help me because I have power to choose the “good part, which shall not be taken away from [me]”…
even God himself.
“for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord… the gift of God… to all who believe.” (Luke 2:11, Romans 6:23, Romans 3:22)
- Which story do you find yourself in today?
- What do you need to do to put off Satan’s lying story and put on Christ’s story of grace and truth?
- Will you cry out to Him for help if you are struggling today?