Post Christmas Reflections

I’ve been wanting to write for some time. I used to write quite a bit and loved it. There are so many things that have kept me from just doing it. One main reason is that I worry my writing is not good enough so I don’t write. When I was given the chance to write a Christmas article, I knew it was finally time to start putting my thoughts on paper again.

I am a gift giver by nature. Giving gifts is something that I have always loved to do. Expressing love in general is something that comes naturally to me.

From the time I could write, I would leave love notes on my mom’s pillow. I want people to feel loved and appreciated. I want them to know they are seen. You would think I would love the yearly opportunity that Christmas provides to give gifts to those I love but I don’t.

I feel pressure. I feel expectation.

I struggle with depression. It is a lifelong companion of mine and I learned several years ago that I am happier when I don’t hide or let myself be ashamed of this struggle but accept it as mine and find ways to manage and cope the best way I can.

Christmas is a major trigger for depression for me. I get less sleep than usual, more holiday obligations than I have time for, and generally feel overwhelmed this time of year. Every night there is something scheduled and I feel enormous pressure to create holiday magic, especially for the special little children that call me mom.

I stress over presents because I want to get the perfect gift for each loved one and often worry that the gifts I give are not enough. I also worry that I will accidentally overlook someone that may need some love and in giving gifts to some, I will inadvertently hurt others.

Are you seeing a theme? Fear of not doing enough, not giving enough, not being enough.

A couple of years ago we gathered in the kitchen as a family and each of us gave a gift to Jesus. We had everyone write what gift they want to give to the Savior in the coming year and wrap it up and put in on the tree.

I was thinking about this a few weeks ago, because I really want to make it a yearly tradition. I was impressed that the gift that Jesus wanted me to give to Him this year was really a gift for me.

The gift He wants for me is grace.

I shrugged it off because I was sure that I should give him the gift of being a better mom, or maybe of giving more service, or work through more of my social anxiety so I can attend church more often, etc.

But I just kept feeling in my heart that he wants me to allow myself more grace. He wants that for each of us.

Have you ever had the thought that a certain family could use dinner that night but didn’t bring it to them because you were too self critical of your cooking skills? I have.

Have you ever wanted to help someone but worried that you wouldn’t say the right thing so you didn’t? I have.

Does the fear of not being perfect at something stop you from even making an attempt? Regrettably it does for me.

I remember making a cake once that tasted great but it was not decorated the best. I threw the whole cake away. It was not what I felt it needed to be. It was not good enough.

I’m here to remind you that you are enough. The world needs you. Your family, friends, and community needs you. Giving gifts at Christmas is a great way to show love but the best gift you can give is the light inside you that is uniquely yours.

I know that often I want to “throw the whole cake away” when it is perfectly good because my imperfections loom so large in front of me. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ. We celebrate Him because he is our savior and redeemer. He does not expect us to be perfect. He knows we never will be so why do we expect that of ourselves?

And so often we let ourselves feel bad about insignificant things. I have a three month old baby with reflux. I hold him the majority of every day. That time is precious and sweet and yet I berate myself for my house not being cleaner or criticize myself for not cooking fancier dinners when I truly am doing the very best I can each day.

This season and beyond I hope that each one of us can be present for each other without pressure or expectation, knowing that we don’t have to prove our worth by how clean our house is, how thin we are, how wonderful the gifts we give are, how perfectly our children behave, etc.

Our value is intrinsic. The best gift we can give to each other and ourselves is the gift of grace. If we truly allow for grace in our lives, we can love each other better. We can assume we are all doing the best we can. We won’t be preoccupied by a feeling of inadequacy. Love others, do your best and let whatever you do today be enough.

julie christmas

-Julie

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