from an article originally posted November 30, 2014…
Presence over presents. I heard a beautiful mama speaking about the difference between these two while home in Indiana last week. Today is the beginning of Advent and I want so much for this holiday season to be meaningful. I want to love my people well, not through the purchasing of the right stuff, but the gentle loving of the hearts in my home. Stuff—well, that will fade, but love—that never ends. So how do we love well and fight the ugly heart of comparison over the holiday season? Don’t get me wrong; I love gift giving, but I think there is so much more for us over Christmas than searching out and finding the perfect gifts...
The questions circle my mind: is this my last Thanksgiving? Is this my last Christmas? Oh, how these thoughts can simply rob me of my peace today. I wondered it last Christmas, and here I am another year older. Praise be. These circling questions create an intensity around each moment that simply isn’t sustainable. I long for us to have a meaningful Christmas without focusing too directly on ourselves. The balance feels impossible sometimes.
I have been thinking a lot about what it is that nurtures peace in our home, fights fear, and multiplies joy. Stuff will never do any of those things. Never. But our presence in life with one another—our intention in loving, our living in love—that lasts. More than all of that, our nearness to Jesus and His grace will bring abiding peace, true peace, lasting comfort. Our living within the moment together, screens down, snuggle love, reflecting on the goodness of God, question asking—living together. That’s what I long for with my people.
I look at all the lovely crafting happening out there, and I long to have baking days together like y’all are enjoying. I see all the holiday going, and I think that’s what I want as well. But when I really look at the heart of today, the feast will always be the relationships not the recipes, the time spent over the craft more than the craft itself.
Presence—how do I celebrate the presence of the relationships in my life today? How do I embrace this moment spent next to my loves well? I struggle with jealousy when I think of those that don’t live with the intensity of wondering if this is their last holiday. Jealousy is such a blasted robber of joy. I think it’s the struggle of so many over the holidays. Perhaps you are jealous that you aren’t able to purchase the presents you wanted, or you look at another and covet the relationships they have. Jealousy—it’s an awful stealer of this moment you have before you.
Presence—living in this moment, looking in gratitude towards the next moment, and fighting against the lies of comparison. How do we look upon the relationships and the moments we do have and embrace the gift of today? Our children will likely not remember the gifts, but they will remember the love. Repent if you spend all your energy comparing yourself to another. Ask forgiveness and begin to enjoy what is before you. If it’s a huge battle, I double dog dare you to take social media off your phone that causes you heartache. You may be watching the holidays of anther and fighting comparison or feeling left out. Take that mess off your phone for the holidays and begin looking at all that is in front of you. All that does promote peace, and love. Yes, that was a double dog dare. I used to sit on Facebook and look at all the parties I was not invited to and forget to enjoy all that was in front of me to embrace.
Live present today with the BIG LOVE that is given to you to give. Stop trying to be another or keep up with another. Be you. The beautiful you that Jesus created to live and love your people today! Let the big overflowing love of Jesus run right through you and onto the people in your life. Live so LOVED that you are able to fight the temptation at jealousy and live present in the life you have today. This moment. This minute. Comparison is a liar. Jealousy is a robber of joy.
Time to break out the movie Elf, time to make popcorn and snuggle in close. Time to sing loud and off key together. It’s time to put down our screens and feast on the relationships before us. I have a lot of face-down days in front of me, but praise be, I have a lot of days where I won’t be face down. Maybe I can’t make the perfect ginger bread house, or perfectly decorate my home for the holidays in pinteresting ways, but I do have moments to share, laughter to embrace, and relationships to nurture.
We have this moment. We are not promised the next; how can we be excellent stewards of today? How can we love the hearts around us well? How can we let God lavishly love us so we can then, in turn, love another? Loving from the overflow, living in this moment. Fighting to create a holiday around what is most meaningful.... Goodness, it’s a battle, isn’t it? How do we put away expectations and embrace Jesus? How do we promote Jesus, and stop living in the pain of what isn’t and begin to embrace what is?
These are questions I’m asking myself today. So many can do so much that I cannot. But that doesn’t count me out. There is value in my limited going. There is joy to be found. But I must fight trying to be like someone else for my joy. Jesus—He’s simply enough. But golly, it’s hard not to compare, isn’t it?