This simple word can bring a many number of different emotions that come flooding in when spoken.
For many, this is a season of absolute joy! Family, traditions, shopping, gift-giving & receiving, lights, movies, hot cocoa, fires in the fireplace are just some of the many beloved things that are a part of this cheerful time of year.
For others though, this time of year brings the opposite. Sadness, loss, reminders, financial issues, loneliness, hurt, increased work schedule are just some of the things that come with this season.
But regardless of what side of the coin you are on, there is something that we should be able to be joyful about no matter our circumstances...
It doesn't come wrapped in pretty paper with a bow.
It doesn't come under the tree.
It isn't something we can give.
We aren't worthy of it at all.
We can't earn it.
But it's the absolute ultimate gift you could ever receive.
Yes, that may be the obvious answer to those of you that are churched. But even though it may be the "sunday school response", it doesn't change the fact that it's true. Or that it's hard to remember. Yes...we all know that is true. It's hard to keep Christ at the center of Christmas. We are bombarded by cultural things -which aren't necessarily bad. But they can distract us. In fact, any of the things I listed in the two sides of the coin categories can take our eyes off of the reason we celebrate....especially the difficult ones.
I know that I struggle. You see, I'm a UPS wife. For those of you that work (or have spouses that work) at UPS/FedEx/etc. enough said, right?? For those of you that don't, allow me to explain. This time of year is what they refer to as "peak". From Thanksgiving (although it's WAY earlier now) until Christmas (and then into February b/c of returns!) they work countless hours, in every weather condition, and even on Christmas Eve if it falls during the week. Basically, we don't see my hubs during this season and when we do, he's completely exhausted- both physically and mentally. He's a mechanic for UPS, which may be even more difficult than the drivers. Any position with these companies is rough during this season.
Because of that, I often lose sight of the meaning of this time of year. It's so easy for me to wallow in the self-pity of "why us" and "this is so hard". Everyone in our household tends to get crabby this time of year, and that often causes me to become bitter.
But you know what? I don't have to be. No, there is a better way. Not necessarily easier....but definitely better.
I need to get my eyes off of myself.
That goes COMPLETELY against my human nature, but it's the only way to change my perspective of this season.
I have to die to self.
Christ calls us to do that at all times actually.
Galatians 2:20 (ESV) says: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
Luke 9:23 (ESV) says: "And he said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'"
I must take up my cross daily.
I must surrender to Christ at all times.
I must look to Him for my joy.
I must rest in the promise that He has a plan for me.
I must rest in the joy of the cross.
THAT is how I will make it through this season. THAT is how I will make it through every season. He truly is the reason for the season, and for every season. I need to take my eyes off of myself and place them on the cross.
How about you? Where are your eyes fixed? Are they on the glimmering glow of the lights of this holiday season? Or are they on Christ? One will only bring temporary happiness. The other will bring everlasting joy. It's a no-brainer really ;) Let's focus on Christ and gently remind one another to do the same when the world's glam begins to tear away their gaze. That's what the Church is for, right? I pray you have a Christ-centered Christmas every day of the year. He truly is the reason to celebrate every moment of every day. Merry Christmas :)
*I'm honored to be featured over at Blogs by Christian Women today on their Christmas Blog Tour. You can check out the tour at: http://wp.me/p4YjKM-MX . They are also having a couple giveaways over there too! Go check it out!