What will you choose to "be" this Advent and Christmas season? Busy? Stressed? Happy? Tired? Overworked? Bitter? Lonely? Sad? Hurried? Rushed? Frustrated? Excited? Occupied? Generous? Joyful? Broke?
For years I have been many of the things in the above list----sadly, the negative ones. This season of the year has often found me waking up each day wishing I could pull the covers back over my head and hide. One more program. One more rehearsal. One more meeting. One more field trip. One more concert. One more church function. One more project. I met each morning with dread and exhaustion. I would hear about Advent and the anticipation we should feel about the coming of Jesus. My joy was lost. I used to enjoy all the activities and "stuff" I was doing. But as I've gotten older and had children I realized how the time is slipping away. My schedule had gotten so packed with "good Christmas things" that I was starting to dislike it more and more. Bringing others cheer was causing me bitterness.
Now, I don't think that the actual programs and activities were wrong. The problem was that it wasn't in moderation and balance.....it was in excess. Excess=too much!
The brakes had to be put on to slow the speed...and at one point I even came to a complete stop. Something had to change. We made some significant decisions within our family about how we would spend this past year. We have done pretty well sticking to our "plan". All in all, life has slowed down to a steady pace instead of a runaway train.
Advent. I have heard about Advent. I have participated in the lighting of the candles and the meaing behind each one. But I don't believe I have ever lived it. Christmas comes and I am not prepared. I have often fretted over not being prepared with gift purchases or travel plans. But I don't feel I am ever spiritually prepared for Christmas. By the time it actually arrives, I usually crash. I have nothing left. I don't really want to celebrate because it comes so quickly when I finally have time to think about it.
Tonight we began our Advent devotions. We opened the first window on the Advent calendar and read the first lesson in our study as a family. The investment of time together studying God's Word has been such a blessing to me this past year. Consistency with family worship has shown through our relationships with God and one another. I am so grateful to my husband for leading our family in our times together. It is never time consuming or anything that takes lots of planning. We just open up the Word and read together and discuss. We pray. Sometimes we even sing! I hope that my girls will always remember the times we spend together and they will continue to spend time with God, and lead their own children, "talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates". (Deuteronomy 11)
This time of year is still busy. There is a lot to do and accomplish in the lives of my children, my job, my husband's job, church, and family. But God has given me perspective. He has given me His wisdom in making some choices for my family that I think have made all the difference in our outlook on each day. I no longer dread the morning. (most days, anyway!!!) I still may need an extra cup of coffee, and we may eat out a little more during the month of December while rushing here and there. But the rushing isn't nearly as out of control and the schedule is more balanced. It is my prayer that I will be prepared for Christmas when it gets here. Prepared in my heart, that is. Come, thou long expected Jesus!
'Tis the season to......BE.