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Peace

How To Really Give The Best Simple Presents

As we reflect “peace on earth and goodwill toward men,” I’ve wondered how to really give the best simple presents. There’s three things to consider as we prepare for Christmas. They are ways to honor this sacred time and give the gift of ourselves. Memories and expectations along with our perspectives can interfere with our gift-giving. Loving eye contact along with a prayer for peace enhances the best simple present we can give.

Memories and Expectations of The Best Simple Presents 

Memories of Christmas pasts and expectations of friends and family can be overwhelming. As a child it’s easy to believe Santa comes down the chimney and brings presents. But, as adults we learn to guard ourselves against pain. Our beliefs turn to distrust, negativity, and avoidance where there’s perceived danger. And sometimes, we’re up against not just perceived, but real emotional harm. The wonder of life no longer seems wonderful as we move through relationships.

Let’s remind ourselves of the phrase “good will toward men.” Of course, we interpret “men” as all human kind. In this special season, we celebrate the coming of Christ.  And let’s ask ourselves, what does that really mean?

Perspective Gives Us The Best Simple Presents

What if we could see the childlike soul of the person who holds discomfort in us? We may see a wounded, betrayed, hurt little boy or girl. Can we be open to see the substance of their being and look beyond their manipulation or rejection of us? If so, could we see their good will?  If we could see their pain out of their own unhealed wounds, we could relate with compassion.

Loving Eye Contact Accompanies The Best Simple Presents

It’s not easy to make loving eye contact. Nor is it easy to believe in the goodwill of those who cause us pain. Yet, if we choose to hold onto our childlike faith, we can grow beyond our own woundedness. As a result, we allow the love of Christ and His healing touch on our own lives. We can give the best simple present of ourselves. Our souls are filled when we’re at peace with the life-giving meaning of “goodwill to men.”

An Attitude of Peace Makes The Best Simple Present

This prayer brought tears to my eyes more than once in my reflections of Christmas. May it touch your heart as you celebrate this sacred time!

Peace Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is discord, union;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is error, truth;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console:

To be understood, as to understand;

To be loved, as to love:

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to

eternal life.

– attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi

Feature Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Christmas Anxiety

What To Do With Christmas Anxiety

 

I sat on a floor pillow in front of our ceramic nativity set; intending to slow down and ponder God’s love and sacrifice. Then Christmas anxiety showed up with messages like:

  • Shouldn’t you be doing something else to get ready for Christmas?
  • You know those packages will be late.
  • What if they don’t like your gifts?
  • Don’t forget to check your balance.
  • And what if you forget. . . ?
Anxiety is a familiar feeling, yet most of us don't pay attention to it's messages. Click To Tweet

For some of us, anxiety shows up often and we’re quick to ignore it by our busy-ness. We look at our happy friends on Facebook. We distract ourselves with emails. We get caught up with a Netflix series. We absorb ourselves in world news. We shop. We volunteer. We work.

We resist the deeper messages of Christmas anxiety.

Years ago, as a single mom, I was anxious about money and ordering my son’s senior pictures on time. As I paid attention to the familiar anxiety sitting on that floor pillow, I noticed the four smiling adolescents (senior pictures) on my wall; airbrushed and unblemished; looking down at me.

What good did that anxiety do me then? My four unblemished adolescents are still unblemished and smiling at me as I sit here on the floor in front of the Nativity set.

The images of shepherds, wise men, Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, along with the sheep and donkey are all unblemished with flowing garments with a sense of wonder on their faces and body gestures. I take that back. One of the donkey’s ears are missing and the other had been glued back on. Other than that, they looked pretty “perfect.”

Allow Christmas anxiety to remind us of what’s real

Any of us who’ve raised adolescent sons and daughters know their lives were far from unblemished and perfect. Even little newborns aren’t “perfect” like we say they are. The Christmas story was far from unblemished with flowing garments. Of course the wise men weren’t even in the story yet.

Our personal and professional lives are far from perfect, yet we present to the public as if they were. Right now I’m spending time trying to perfect this blog post. We want to look good; unblemished, and smiling.

Why do we work so hard for perfect and unblemished images? What is it about the imperfections of our lives we can’t accept? It’s exhausting to keep up with such images. Maybe that’s what anxiety is trying to tell us. Stop trying so hard to be perfect. It’s just an image and not real. 

What if we paid attention to Christmas anxiety? What if we considered any “negative emotion” as a message from God to our souls? Wouldn’t it make our “to do” list seem a bit irrelevant? Why would we want to miss out on the messages God is using – our own emotions? 

Meet God in the midst of Christmas anxiety

Let’s embrace all of our feelings this Christmas season. Consider them messages from God. They’re worthy to notice, remember, and be aware. Let’s accept our imperfections and stay close to what’s real.

Would you join me in this prayer? 

Lord, meet me in this moment. Help me notice what’s real. Help me separate the images from reality. Let me slow down and accept my imperfections. 

Questions to Ponder

What emotions are you experiencing this Christmas season?

What messages are you paying attention to?