I’ve always loved Christmas! I love the music, the decorations, the baking, the gift giving and the parties. But, as much as I love the holidays, for many years they stirred up in me the pressure of feeling pulled in a million different directions. Can you relate?
I mean who doesn’t want to bake cookies that look like Martha Stewart’s? And, wouldn’t you love for your house to look like the cover photo of HGTV’s Magazine. But, by far the greatest pressure you likely feel comes from striving to keep everyone happy.
Here’s the thing, people pleasing puts us in prison. Managing the expectations of others creates shackles around our hearts and leaves our stomachs in knots. Worrying excessively about who will be disappointed, hurt or angry, gives others too much power over us. In the end, it becomes a form of idol worship.
The only one who deserves that kind of honor and power is the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to bow before Him alone. Somewhere in our heads we know that don’t we? And, we don’t want to hurt others intentionally, so, what’s the answer? Where’s the balance?
Here are a few tips that have helped me find freedom from living in bondage to the expectations of others:
- Set aside time to quietly worship God. It helps me greatly during the intense season of the holidays to take some time to be alone with God. I worship and praise Him. I lay opportunities before Him and ask Him to bring my heart into alignment with His. As I sit quietly and listen, He shows me what to say, “yes” to and what to say, “no” to. He untangles the knots in my stomach and soothes away the searing pain in my head.
- List priorities. I create a list of events and activities that are important to me that I’ll prioritize. These may be as profound as Christmas Eve services or making cookies with the grandkids. As I reflect on what’s important to me, it helps me set my schedule intentionally so that I don’t feel regret after the holidays.
- Drop the word “Should” from your vocabulary. I realized a few years ago that I had a lot of “shoulds” in my life. These included, expectations I put on myself to be some type of Superwoman. Things like baking picture perfect cookies, hosting grand extravagant parties, buying perfect gifts, sustaining endless energy, meeting with everyone that wanted to have coffee, keeping a perfect attitude, and witnessing to the whole neighborhood. I will never forget the freedom I discovered when I realized that Jesus never once turned to His disciples and said, “You guys should try harder.” Read through the gospels. Jesus never put pressure on anyone to try harder. Instead He came bringing grace and truth. (John 1:17). To put it simply, Jesus didn’t call you, or me, to be a total spaz trying to get things that aren’t important checked off our list. So, Chill. Relax. Receive His grace. If the house doesn’t look perfect – don’t sweat it. It you burn Christmas dinner – laugh. If you loose it with your kids or feel impatient with your spouse – receive Christ’s grace. If you hurt someone – apologize. Admit that you’re not perfect. Friend,that is why we need Jesus so badly. He came knowing the truth about how messed up we are, but offering grace in spite of it all.
As you celebrate the birth of Christ this season, receive His grace. Thank Him daily that you don’t have to measure up. Just let Him love you. And, give yourself the gift of grace this Christmas! Hey, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and tell me how do you enjoy grace during the holidays. i’ll choose one comment and that person will win a FREE copy of Freedom From Performing. I’ll choose the winner on Wednesday and announce the winner on my Facebook page. But, You have to leave a comment to be entered to win!~