My expectations for myself (and everyone else) tend to be highest at Christmas time. And so is the stress.
Take last Saturday, for instance. Saturday afternoons at our house often include playing a game or watching a movie with the kids, making cookies, or taking a nap. But instead of those things, here’s what was going down at our house:
5:19 “Ken, you have to wear something dressier than that. Here. I’ll find something… Ugh! Why is this closet such a mess? Why haven’t you moved your summer shirts yet? Do I always have to do everything??? We’re going to be late!“
5:27 (Gasp) “It’s already almost 5:30!! Ken!! You need to iron your own sweater… it’s on the bed. I still have to blow my hair dry! Why am I always late???”
5:46 “You have to tell me when the red light ends. I don’t want to stick this mascara wand in my eye when you take off… I hate being late!”
5:59 “It starts in one minute. Just park there. Park anywhere! We are late!”
6:04 “These heels are already killing me. How much farther do we have to walk? We are so incredibly late. Why are you so calm? We. Are. Late!!!”
6:07 “I don’t know why there’s a gymnastics meet in there. I put in the address you told me! Oh no… my battery is at 1%… And it’s dead. Now, what? This is going to make us even more late!!”
6:11 “What do you mean you can’t find the email? So how are we supposed to check the details?? I can’t believe this! Why didn’t you write down the address??? This is the kind of stuff that always makes us LATE!!!”
6:17 “What?? We had the date wrong? (Collapsing in a frazzled heap on a random ledge.) Yay! I’m so relieved that we’re not late. We’re just really, really early.”
It’s ridiculous, really–how stressed out I get at Christmas time. Especially when you consider what the celebration is all about. Christmas is the time we celebrate the arrival of Jesus–who came to save us from our ugly, sinful patterns. Like ordering my husband around and blaming him for making us late, rather than owning up to my poor planning, and making the best of the situation.
When I try to control Christmas, it’s not because I’m trying to make everyone miserable; I’m actually trying to make everything turn out right. The misery is just the byproduct. How quickly I forget that control leads to misery for all of us.
On the other hand, when I sweetly surrender to Jesus the moments and hours and days of the Christmas season–whether by managing my time, my tongue, or my expectations–I find the peace and joy I long for at Christmas.
What if I had surrendered those moments between 5:19 and 6:17 on Saturday to Jesus? He knew all along that there was no need to be frazzled. He wants me to be free of my Control Girl habit.
Jesus entered our world to bring an end to the chaos and darkness. We’ll never be able to sing, “All is calm… All is bright,” if we’re trying to control Christmas; only when we bow our hearts before this Prince of Peace.