As the holidays approached this year, I mentally began to write my Christmas letter. You know the one… similar to what you get from many people. Travel news, bragging about the kids, all the exciting things happening in life, etc. But as I contemplated what to share, the content of my letter began to change. So for those of you looking for a newsy, what’s happening in our world kind of update, you may want to stop now. If I’ve piqued your curiosity, read on. This really just comes from my heart as I read related posts on Facebook, had conversations with friends about the topic, and listened to an amazing speaker earlier this fall.
How often do we think about the image we portray in our public lives? Reading social networking posts, blogs - even just listening to other’s stories can set up such unrealistic expectations for our own lives. We tend to only hear the positive news, the great accomplishments, how wonderful everything is and we begin to compare. We compare our mundane, oh-so-imperfect realities with the brief glimpses into others’ “perfect” lives and come up feeling like we are missing out on something. That “if only xyz” would happen, life would be better or we would be happier. But, the truth of that matter is that no one’s life is perfect. Those imperfections just may not be as visible to us. There is no winning the comparison game. The truth is that there will always be someone who has more, does more, gives more…
So this Christmas, instead of the letter with all the good news, I’m choosing to be real about our life. The year has been filled with ups and downs – laughter and tears. There have been blessings beyond measure. Mark and the kids were able to travel with me as I attended work related conferences. We moved to the country and have room for the kids to run. With the larger space, we were able to fill our home with friends and family at Thanksgiving. But, there have been challenges as well. We’ve grieved the fact that Maia has not regained all she lost with last year’s illness, including her speech. Matthew continues to heal from the hurts of his life before joining our family. Mark and I struggle to balance the demands of work/home, raising kids with special needs, and our relationship. The house is usually a mess, the “to-do” list never finished. Some days, the best scenario is to muddle through, climb into bed at night and pray for strength to start again the next morning
More and more, I am reminded that life isn’t about how many fabulous vacations we’ve taken or our kids’ amazing accomplishments. It isn’t about the showcase home or the expensive gift from our spouse. There is always going to be someone who is able to boast something better, someone whose life seems “more perfect”.
God doesn’t ask us to be flawless. The worldly treasures we value so highly are of no importance to Him. He sent His son to be born in a stable and laid in a manger – it doesn’t get much more imperfect and humble than that. But, that is just part of what makes Him so real and accessible to us. Christ’s gifts are love and grace, redemption, and the promise of eternity to those who believe. They are not dependent on what we possess or accomplish in life. With God, we never have to worry about how we compare or measure up.
My challenge to you is this. Make a choice to be real, let your guard down a bit; quit trying to keep up that image of having it all together. Extend grace to others. Allow them to be imperfect. Perhaps in doing so, we can create a world where there is more peace, kindness, and compassion.
And my holiday prayer is that you find strength when your heart is weary, peace when you feel unsettled, a sense of contentment with where your life is right now, security in knowing that God loves you with a perfect love, and joy in celebrating the birth of the Christ Child.
Blessings to you and yours this Christmas and throughout 2014!