It should be so simple. Christmas is all about Jesus. So why do I have these mental battles with myself about what this season should be? Maybe you can relate.
6. Travel vs. Stay Home
There are so many variables related to holiday travel. Weather, of course. Cost, but that can be budgeted. Hassle with crowds. Driving or flying? Being the extra person at others’ holiday celebrations or hosting my own. And I have survived the once unimaginable: spending Christmas alone. I wouldn’t want to do that every year, but there was a special peace in celebrating Jesus’ birth with Jesus as my only guest.
5. Decorate vs. Trouble
I love Christmas decorations! I’ve collected a lot of favorite items through the years. But sometimes I struggle with the thought that getting everything out and reorganizing my living space just isn’t worth the trouble for one person. Get over it, girl! If my heirlooms and favorites bring me pleasure, then of course decorating is worth the trouble! And yes, I did decorate this year.
4. Parties vs. Reason for the Season
In this festive season, there are often more parties than we can possibly attend. Our calendars begin to fill up in November, and by December 25 we’re often exhausted. Jesus loved to gather with his friends. In fact, he was rarely alone. I’m an extrovert, and I love getting together with friends. But the party frenzy can be draining if I don’t manage it well. So sometimes I have to miss some gatherings in favor of concerts, worship services, and Bible studies that help me keep my focus on Jesus.
3. Spending vs. Overspending
No matter what age you are or what income level you’re living at, this is definitely a cultural struggle. Media bombards us with millions of ways to spend. Appeals from nonprofit organizations increase. Guilt messes with our budget. Competitive giving sometimes sneaks into our plan. Every year, I have to remind myself that there’s no way I can keep up with the Joneses or the Obamas or the Buffetts. I have to live in my own financial reality. And when I don’t, I’m the one who pays.
2. Giving vs. Getting
There comes a time in life when it’s more blessed to give than to receive. And not just from a Biblical view. I love to give! Throughout the year, I work on paying attention to what others like and are interested in. That makes gift giving so much fun! For me, the best gift these days is quality time. I don’t need any gadgets or bling or the latest fashions. I know we can’t always give quality time to one another, but that is definitely my preferred gift to receive. Any time of the year.
1. Secular vs. Christian
This is probably the biggest battle for me. Our culture keeps mixing reindeer and gadgets with Jesus and the manger. As Dr. John C. Bowling, president of Olivet Nazarene University, said in a chapel service this week, our culture wants to believe in God being born as a human in a manger, but this story seems impossible. As believers in Christ, it’s our job to keep shifting the focus ― for our children, grandchildren, co-workers, neighbors, friends ― to Jesus. We may not be able to change the world, but we can make a difference where we are.
There is an easy victory to each one of these battles. It may be countercultural. It may force me to make unpopular choices and decisions. It may result in a holiday that’s truly joyful. When I focus on Jesus, my other priorities fall into place. Then I have to make the intentional, sometimes difficult decisions to put him first.
How about you?
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son” (John 1:14).