Hello everyone and I am so sorry that I’m so late with this post…I was supposed to write it two days ago and but I got so busy on Sunday and then completely spaced out yesterday about it.
Because I’m so late this post will be short but sweet and you should expect another post today (the post that was actually supposed to be today).
I guess what I really want to offer is some encouragement. But I don’t want to follow all the repetitive cliché “lessons” for us based on the Christmas story. I want to offer real, heart-felt encouragement amid everything.
To be honest I’ve been really worn out and just plain tired around Christmas. And it’s not so much Christmas that makes me tired, but everything surrounding it.
Finals week. Election results. So much to do and see. Crowded stores. Every room is a “Santa’s Workshop.” Anticipation and dread. Concerts to play in and see. Cards to write and read. Catching up on everything you’ve procrastinated on. Fighting winter depression. Wondering if when this year ends and the New Year begins, we’ll have measured up to our own standard. Met our resolutions. Seen if we’re good enough.
It’s exhausting. And so complicated.
This year excluded, I’ve never really felt lonely at Christmas. And definitely not the whole “singles loneliness.” This year COVID and social distancing has made me a lonely already, but Christmas hasn’t made that any worse really.
It’s not loneliness I tend to deal with this time of year but bitterness, jealousy, discontentment, and self-hatred.
It’s almost funny how jealousy and self-hatred can go hand-in-hand. One is discontentment with others (particularly in comparison to others) and one is discontentment with oneself. And while discontentment with oneself can be beneficial if it lead to dependence on God, if it simply festers into bitterness it can be a whole lot worse.
Here are 10 of the things I’ve learned work and don’t work to keep bitterness and jealousy in check (particularly around Christmas). I hope you are both encouraged and exhorted by them.
1) Lowering your expectations of Christmas so you “won’t be disappointed” only temporarily subdues bitterness and jealousy.
2) Living out peace and kindness throughout the Christmas season and particularly on Christmas day does not just happen automatically. There is no “Christmas magic” that makes people get along better. If there is no work going into it, it’s just surface peace. Loving one another takes sacrifice and effort, even on Christmas day.
3) Understanding the difference between “I deserve to have whatever I want particularly if it’s small” and “I am loved by God who will give me whatever I truly need” is very important.
4) There is so much joy in pouring your heart into a gift for another person.
5) Perfect love casts out fear
6) Most of the time others don’t know when you’re feeling lonely, jealous for attention and love, and festering bitterness. With all the busyness surrounding Christmas it can be so hard to tell if a loved one is feeling neglected or ignored. When you recognize a root of jealousy or bitterness in yourself, often all it takes is a quick note to a friend or family member telling them that you are feeling lonely or isolated for them to realize this and help fill your cup back up. It’s not about demanding love, but about recognizing when and why you are sad then communicating it instead of resorting to bitterness or unkindness.
7) If you are just feeling grumpy or irritated and you can’t figure out why asking a friend or two to pray about it can really help you sort out your attitude. Admitting you have a bad attitude does wonders.
8) Loving others who are as broken as you (if not more broken on the outside) can not only work to heal and help them, but also to renew a right spirit within you and fill you with gratitude and hope in the midst of your bitterness.
9) Remember that every day is a gift. Enjoy every moment with you loved ones and focus on the important things instead of getting caught up in trivial arguments.
10) You are loved by God. Fully and utterly loved. You are special, you are beautiful, and you have been made perfect in God’s eyes by Jesus’ sacrifice if only you accept his beautiful gift of salvation. You are made in the image of God and don’t you ever forget that. If God says you are awesomely and wonderfully made, who are you to say otherwise? If God says there is hope for you, that even now He is working in you and sanctifying you, who are you to say otherwise.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.“
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.”
Song of the Day: Heaven Everywhere by Francesca Battistelli
*All scripture quotations are from the ESV translation unless otherwise noted