As a blogger who focuses on making Old Things New, my blog is “picture heavy” with photos of thrift store projects I’ve transformed, crafty creations, and shots of my own home decor. I especially love sharing photos during the Christmas season when my home is holiday perfect. Only it’s not. Perfect I mean. From time to time I share my failures on this blog and I’m always surprised at how many people connect with me over those failures. We can all relate to imperfection in others can’t we?
During this “most wonderful time of the year” it is so easy to get caught up in the external preparations of hanging lights, decorating the tree, planning menus, shopping, cleaning, etc., that we neglect the internal preparation. The preparing of the heart. At Christmastime we dress our homes and ourselves in our finest so that all looks beautiful on the outside (Christ followers are especially good at this) but the inside is often a mess. Sometimes we work so hard at our exterior preparation that we become overwhelmed with it all and soon find ourselves becoming a bit like The Grinch.
We are told that this should be the happiest time of the year. A time to take joy in the true meaning of Christmas, to spend time with family and friends. A time to worship together with church family. A time for holiday parties and good cheer!
Well maybe, just maybe, this isn’t the happiest time of year for you. Maybe you’re dreading everything about Christmas and what it means for “you and yours”. Maybe you find yourself Grinching over the fact that you’ll have to spend time with people you don’t really enjoy, the co-workers who party too much and make fools of themselves; that elderly family member who is cranky all of the time and thinks they’ve earned the right to be that way by virtue of age alone; friends that come into your home with their out-of-control children who touch everything in sight and don’t leave until at least one item is broken; the guests who call on the day of the big dinner and ask what they can bring (AFTER you’ve done all of the food prep, so of course there is nothing that needs to be added to the menu); the visitors that enjoy lingering over coffee long after the time for coffee is finished, while you slave away (alone) in the kitchen, cleaning up the mess you’ve spent days creating; the boisterous, know-it-all family member who knows exactly how to ruin everyone’s good time – assuming a good time could be had with this motley crew of guests!
The weather is dark and dreary and so are you. Do you know that at the heart of all this Grinching is selfishness? And yes, there may be a tad bit of personal experience attached to the above descriptions because I’m not perfect at this love-your-neighbor stuff either.
What if we were to prepare our hearts for the holidays to the same extent that we prepare our homes? What if we took some “time out” to spend with God and allowed the light of His Word to brighten our dark Grinchy hearts. What if we made a list of all that we have to be grateful for? What if we invest ourselves in the lives of those difficult people by praying for them – daily – from now until Christmas?
As a result of all of this, what if we become so intimate with Jesus that our hearts became His heart for those we are intolerant of? Finally, and this is HUGE, what if out of the overflow of time spent with Jesus we suddenly find our hearts filled with true JOY at the opportunity to prepare a meal for our difficult people, to serve them, do their dishes and even listen to one more story from one who may have no one else in their life who will listen?
I believe in the power of God to change people. I’m not talking about “those people”. I’m talking about you and me. I believe that Jesus can change our hearts of selfishness toward others! In fact, He delights in answering prayers to become more like Him because that is who we are called to be.
The result? That irritating co-worker, friend or family member will be blessed by our new attitude. If they don’t know Him they will experience through us the very love of Jesus. And here is the bonus:
PRAYER: Dear Lord, in these days leading up to Christmas, keep our eyes focused on You. Prepare our hearts to be generous toward those we find most difficult. Show us how to become people after your own heart, following so closely beside you that we can feel Your breath on our cheeks, and hear Your whisper in our ears. Keep us close enough to know Your heart and show that heart toward others. You have lavished such an extreme grace upon us that it is only right that we be gracious toward others. Lord, give us eyes to see into the heart of others and speak the very words of hope and encouragement that they need to hear from You this Christmas season.
Dear Lord, may this be the best Christmas ever!
Now, if you’d like a little laughter to add to this more serious post, take a peek back at the post Decorating for Christmas – A Very Griswold Experience right HERE. So thankful for a husband who lets me share a few of his foibles with the world!
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