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!~
I exclude myself from the contest because I know the author (I know the last name might have given it away), but each year whether with my boys or without them, I sit down and read “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson. I first discovered this book when my youngest had to read it for fourth grade, so, needless to say, it’s an easy read. However, the truth contained in this little gem brings me to tears every year and reminds me that we are all “Herdmans” but we all can become part of His story and find the grace that saves us – often from ourselves.
I’m guilty of the “would haves and should haves.” I realize it is just another tactic of the devil trying to divert my attention away from what really matters, and that is being ‘thankful’ God has given me another day to love and worship “Him.” I have so much to be thankful for … I have survived two cancers because of God. (Romans 8:28) Worry is a bondage, an ‘idol’ we choose to ‘worship,’ as we carefully place it upon a pedestal. We allow it to rob us of our time away from God, because we are too busy fretting and worrying about what others think, or certain situations which are far beyond our control. I have just moved out on my own, and I have people pulling and pushing me in all directions. I have a mini Goldendoodle, Gracie Mae, and she is my little miracle from God. She brings me so much joy, and I know she loves me unconditionally. I honestly feel she understands the pain I go through. I’ve never been married, and I don’t have children, so I believe God hand-picked her just for me, especially after undergoing major surgery . I would like to share that I have learned to eliminate the word “If” from my vocabulary, and replacing it with the word, “When.” Just eliminating that one word, “If,” has allowed me to have so much more positive reinforcement in my life. God opens beautiful and bountiful doors for us; and, sometimes I would find myself staring at the door He just shut, and I miss out on the door He just opened. I started believing and trusting God 100%, and saying, “When God provides,” and the day before Thanksgiving, I was living on my own, with my Gracie Mae, and in a beautiful Town Home, and now there is no one trying to control my thoughts, my words, or my life. People ask, what is God’s Will? Today I learned that “God’s Will” is “God’s Word,” and with that knowledge, I can now focus on what is most important in my life, and that is having a personal relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ. Yes, the Holidays – Christmas – can be very hard sometimes, and I just have to remember I have the control to ‘reel’ my mind back in, and remember it is all about Jesus Christ, and not about me, you, and all the others who expect way too much of us, because we have allowed them to. I have to stop and take all the other stuff ‘captive,’ and if it is not from God, then I just sweep my mind clean, and replace the negativity with Jesus, and His Word and His Love. God bless you, Becky Harling, and thank you for allowing me to ‘share’ with you. Thank you for following me on Twitter, too. What a blessing you are to me! Merry Christmas, my sweet Sister in Jesus Christ, and I pray His Love will give you much needed peace this Christmas and throughout the years to come.
Thank you, Becky! Those “shoulds” are terrible taskmasters, and I must continue to work on saying NO to them. I also exclude myself from this contest, as funny enough, I was just looking on my bookshelf earlier today and saw your wonderful book, “Freedom from Performing” right there! Thank you for keeping it real, and always reminding us to PRAISE Him! Love you, and wish you and your family beautiful Christmas memories!! God bless!