Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Not-So-Perfect Perfect Night

I was feeling a little stress this morning, getting ready for church, thinking about everything I still needed to do before the clock strikes midnight tonight. The Martha (sister of Mary) in me wants everyone to love their Christmas dinner, and for all to happily open their personally, artfully wrapped packages, smile, and say,"Oh! It's just what I've always wanted!"

The Mary in me is drawn to Jesus, His Message and His Love. I want to be finished with all of the Martha things and move on to the Mary things.

Did you read that? "To finish with the Martha things, and move on to the Mary things."

It sounds as if I am giving Christ what is left of me. I am fitting Him in after everything else is complete. Why can't I just focus on Jesus as Mary did, listen intently, sitting at His Feet? What makes me think that I must finish all of these tasks so that I can enjoy Christmas myself?

-The Overwhelming Desire to Be Perfect.

I still can't get over the fact that I am not going to bake 3 dozen cookies, decorate them with detailed piping, while wearing a festive red and green apron. I can't get over the fact that my family really doesn't care what we have to eat Christmas Day. They would rather see me happy and pleasant, than tired and grouchy from preparing a fancy meal.

I thought today about Mary, the mother of Jesus, and how she must have felt that night. Surely she never wanted to give birth in a cave, surrounded by smelly animals, miles away from her mother and family who could help her. She was really giving birth on her own. Even with Joseph at her side, she must have felt very lonely.

I wonder if she thought to herself,"Oh, no! This can't be! I am afraid and alone. How can I give birth to any child under these conditions? I am going to disappoint Joseph and God. I am certain God never meant for me to give birth to His Son, The King of All Kings, surrounded by animals. How can I lay The Messiah in a feeding trough?! How can I kneel and worship Him as He lay in a manger? Oh, no! This isn't how I planned it!"

Scripture really doesn't reveal anything about what Mary expected. We do know that she pondered it in her heart. As a woman, I can only imagine what she could have felt. The truth is that, no matter what Mary expected or wanted, Christmas happened anyway. Jesus was born.

So, I am posting this (apart from what was to be a blogging break), to remind all of you that you do not have to be perfect this Christmas. Never mind what you think you have to do, to be. Just be you. The mom. The wife. The sister. Just you.

No one is going to remember the meal you cooked many years from now. They will forget the bow you painstakingly made. Your kids will probably forget the toys they received, but they will remember you, your smile, your hugs. Let them see you. Let them see you kneeling by His Manger. Let them see Jesus.


Grafted Branch said...

That was a beautiful post... *sigh*...absolutely, wonderfully beautiful.

Thanks for taking the time to pen it.

Anonymous said...

Me. That was me.

Thank you for pointing out the important parts.

Anonymous said...

Melanie, your post goes hand in hand with mine. We have to lower our expectations of ourselves and focus on Christ and "being" instead of "doing." Hope you have a wonderful day.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Melanie! Oh, how it convicted me.

Nancy said...

I'm reading this on the 26th, as I sit here feeling guilty that my husband cooked Christmas dinner yesterday while I played with the kids all afternoon.

See, for those of you who don't know me except from Melanie's glowing description, I'm messy and a little selfish. Sometimes I get cranky if I have to do one thing when I want to do something else instead.

My husband is the opposite of me; he sweeps and vacuums ALL the time. He had put away all presents by noon yesterday, unless we were actually holding or wearing them at the time.

This made me sad. It seemed to me that he wanted to "finish" Christmas instead of enjoy it, so I stayed in my pajamas and played new games with the kids and figured out how my daughter's new camera worked while he cooked dinner.

He did spend some time playing Madden2007 with our son, but today I wonder if my attitude saddenned him like his saddenned me.

Dinner was delicious. We sang "Happy Birthday" for our blessing and enjoyed the meal. (BTW, I did dress by then.)Thanks for reminding me that God and my children prefer my time, attention and hugs to the picture perfect meal, so I really shouldn't feel guilty.

Julie said...

Thanks, Melanie.

I've really had to let go of a LOT of things this year due to an accident and being sick. I almost felt cheated...I didn't even get to bake any Christmas cookies.

But my daughter-in-law is here with us and our grandkids are here, and a new baby is due very soon. So, priorities shifted.

And guess what? It's okay. PEACE and JOY are more important!

LOVE is important. JESUS is all of these things.