|Photo by Shanyn Salinski|
She asks me every year for the past couple of years, “Are you coming Christmas Day or Boxing Day?”
She knows the answer. Our family day is Christmas Day. For us, just us three.
She asks him every year for the past couple of years, “What time will you arrive?”
She knows the answer. When we get there, we’ll be there. We try to get away in good time. But with gifts, animals, weather and traffic the journey becomes something fluid.
Being there. That is what matters.
Not when. Not with how much, or how little.
Standards – the things that we own. Spending time as a family. Having a Special Christmas our own way.
Expectations – the things that want to own us. Get here quick. Hurry up. What took you so long? Get done. We want to do something else.
We have set a family standard for how we try to conduct ourselves. How we choose to celebrate holy days like Christmas. Like letting people wish us the best of the season in their own way. Like slowing down, like saying no. And sometimes saying NO!
We have worked hard to reject expectations. Of ourselves, and of others – and that`s tough. We are bombarded with expectations in the media, in our devotionals, at church and by our friends and family. Do this. Do that. Say this. Say that. Don`t. Do. STOP! STOP!
But how hard is it to let go? So hard. We WANT that TV movie Christmas, even the comedy. We WANT the ___________________. (Fill in your own blank!) And yet when we find ourselves with what we have, right in front of us, we find exactly what we need.
Playing with new toys. Reading new books. Napping. Not cooking. Not traveling. Those matter to us. Talking about Jesus, and the reason we celebrate. Praying for those who are far away, and those who are ill. Lonely. Struggling.
Standards – seems like some get lower and lower all the time. While, in perfect harmony, the expectations get higher and higher.
Jesus was born in a barn. A barn, in a manger. His young parents held him in the dark, smelling the breath of animals. Hearing the songs of angels. God set the standard right there – Jesus came to save everyone. No one was too low. Too humble. Too dirty. Too hopeless. Too ANYTHING!
People who knew prophecy had expectations of a King. They had high expectations of the one who would come to save THEM. God crushed that expectation with so much love, with such a gentle hand. He said no. And then He said come.
If you could drop one expectation this year, what would it be? Buying gifts for people you don’t really know because they are ‘family’? Spending too much because you don’t want to be accused of being ‘cheap’? Rushing here and there to please someone? Not being able to say no because you’ll be letting someone down?
If you could raise one standard this year, what would it be? To sing more carols? To shout greetings out the window as you drive downtown? To make cookies and squares to share? To seek joy and embrace it? To be able to say, with love, no?
I challenge you to embrace something new and wonderful for you this Christmas season! If you are alone, reach out to someone. If you are rushed, slow down. If you are tired, rest. If you are stressed out, do something silly. Make a list of your expectations – and give them to God. Surrender them and let Him fill you with joy.