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. . . ?
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?