Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Perhaps you have Yuletide-Imperfectionaphobia

"Charlie Brown, you're the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem." Linus Van Pelt

Every woman I talk to lately is completely stressed out about Christmas. We all seem to be pulled in too many directions with too many cookies on our plates. I would guess that you are stressed out, too.

Like Charlie Brown, the commercialism really depresses me, but I am the one who allows myself to get stressed. Every year I know what lies ahead of me. The gift buying. The cooking. The decorating. The musicals. The (fill in the blank.) All of these things pile on top of what is already a full schedule of responsibilities.

For you ladies out there who work outside of the home and for you homeschoolers, I don't know how you do it. If you are on some special medication, please leave the name of it in the comments, please.

Seriously, it seems like the duties, if you will, of Christmas always fall on the women. Yet, we are the natural nurturers of the family. It is part of God's Plan.

So why is it so hard?

Where are we going wrong?

For me, I know that I take on too much. I have a hard time saying, "no." I have a hard time disappointing anyone besides myself. I also enjoy the decorating and the gift buying- to a point. It is when all of the other responsibilities get in the mix, that it becomes a chore.

Then I hear God's Whisper,"Slow down. Keep your eyes on Jesus."

I think to myself,"I know that God. This just adds to the guilt. I want to keep my focus on you, the true gift of the Christmas Season. I love you, Lord. But, I am overwhelmed."

For the last several weeks, I have been studying the Christmas story in its entirety, trying to put all of the pieces together and prepare for Sunday School lessons. God has shown me several truths and I would like to share one of them with you.

Many times we think of Mary in the stable when she gave birth to Jesus. We pause and think, "Poor Mary. There was no room in the inn. She was forced to have her child, the Son of God, in a stable."

Well, you know what? That was God's Plan. God had prepared the way for Christ before His Birth. He must have prepared for the birth as well.

I am no scholar, but what I truly believe is that God wanted Mary and Joseph to be in the stable, alone with Jesus that night. If they had been in the inn, they would have been surrounded by people and noise and distraction. Instead, they were in a stable, in the quiet stillness of the night. They were alone with their child who was also their Savior. The Savior of the world. In the dark, lonely, dirty stable, surrounded by animals, Mary and Joseph were also surrounded by the Peace of God.

So I am adding one more thing to my list, and I am taking off a few others. I encourage you to do the same.

Each night until Christmas, even for five minutes, go to your quiet place, your "stable" and spend time alone with Jesus. Read your Bible or just spend time in prayer. Lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to. If you miss one night, don't feel guilty. Satan loves to take you on a guilt trip. Just wake up the next morning and ask God to help you stay focused on Him. He will provide the time when your heart is seeking Him. Your few minutes may be in the shower or the car on the way to work. No matter where your stable is, God will meet you there.

Look at your list of things to do. Is there anything you can take off? Are there any duties you can delegate? Any commitments you can let go of? I'll bet there is.

Remember, there was no room for them in the inn. There was no room for Him either. Take time in the quietness of the "stable" with Christ this Christmas.

Christmas doesn't have to be perfect. Christ, in all of His Glory, is all the perfection we need.


Susanne said...

Beautiful, beautiful post Melanie. I love how your put it, go to your "stable" and spend time with Jesus.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Man, Melanie. I couldn't agree more. I've been in the Christmas pruning process for a few years now. It's been tremendously freeing to stop doing all that stuff so I can focus on what's truly important and meaningful to me. Great post!

Roxanne said...

Wonderful words of wisdom--and a great charge to all of us. Thanks for sharing this, Melanie.

Ginny said...

Hi, Melanie
I have never commented before, but I just want you to know how much I enjoyed post! Thanks for sharing these beautiful thoughts.
Lord bless...from upstate New York!

Barbara H. said...

What a wonderful post!

Traditions are wonderful things, but sometimes they can be burdensome if we feel it just won't be Christmas if we don't do x, y, and z, and then we feel overloaded.

I never thought of the peace and quiet of the stable -- I've tended to think of the darkness and smell and lack of sanitation. :-) But as one who doesn't like crowded, noisy places, I can appreciate finding a quiet spot amid all the chaos. What a sweet application and parallel to what we need to do today.

Barbara H. @ Stray Thoughts

Nicki said...

Amen, Melanie! When I started having kids, I was always so overwhelmed when it came to the holidays.

Do this.

Do that.

Go here.

Go there.

I realized that so much of it was self imposed or just plain unneccessary. And, often out of focus. So, I started saying, "No". I started new traditions that didn't involve as much of the 'to do'. So, here I am, with three homeschooled :) kids, and our Christmases are so much more relaxed, less stressful, and filled with much more joy. And, much more focused on the birth of our Savior.

This was a wonderful post. I hope that your Christmas gets a little less hectic. :)

Nicki said...

Ummm...yeah. I meant 'unnecessary'. I guess I got a little carried away with doubling the constonants in that word. :)

Tammy said...

Melanie, I'm glad you stopped by today or in these days busy days of my own, I might have missed this post. And this was so beautiful.
The part about getting alone with Jesus in our own stable touched me...I so want to do this.

I've been striving for us to focus on Jesus more as a family this Christmas...but I need to individually as well.

I loved this, Melanie...thank you!

Linda said...

Good, good stuff. You should publish this.

Jennifer said...

This is exactly where I am sitting this morning. I'm having one of those days where I cry at everything - you know the ones where you cry when you can't find your cell phone at the bottom of your purse kind of day. I am way overwhelmed - with life and Christmas activities that I enjoy but are seeming to be too much. I needed to read this today. Thank you for your beautiful words and awesome reminder of this season. I love the picture you painted of how God's plan was for them to be in the stable. The Christmas story truly would be quite different if there was room for them in the inn. I will look at my manger scene this evening with newness. I'm in tears again, but good ones now.

Nicki said...


I hope you don't mind, but I forwarded this to some family and friends this morning. It really is a wonderful post. :)

I'm also laughing because I realized that in my spelling correction comment earlier, I misspelled 'consonants'! LOL!

This is why I usually stick to lurking and less to commenting. Forgive me if there are any spelling errors in this comment too. Hee!

Dawn said...

Thank you, Mel. I really needed that. {hugs}