12.03.2016

Christmas: Fixing My Heart on What Really Matters

"Fling wide the portals of your heart;
Make it a temple, set apart
from earthly use for heaven's employ,
adorned with prayer and love and joy. "
There are so many things to love about the Christmas season: decorating the tree, giving gifts, the music, the get-togethers, and the all-around cozy and cheerful spirit.

However, sometimes all this can get stressful.

I'll be totally honest here...
for the last five or so years, the Christmas season has really stressed me out.
Aside from all the activities, I really struggle to budget my time with loved ones. There are so many people we want to see and spend time with, and simply not enough time.
To be completely transparent, there have been times in the last few years that I have dreaded the holiday season, just because it can bring so much tension for me.

I was feeling that way this year... and then I took a step back. 


As I anticipated the season, one thing on our busy calendar was Advent services at Church. As I sat in church, my spirit was refreshed in the true heart of Christmas.
It's not all about the traditions and the hectic lifestyle of running around to every single get-together possible and going to every holiday event. 
It's about preparing our hearts for the coming of Christ.

I remember feeling this anticipation as a child on Christmas Eve. As I sat in church singing the final verse of "Silent Night", watching the wax from my votive candle melt, I remember my heart feeling full of eager excitement. While some of that was for gifts and being surrounded by my family around the Christmas tree, I do believe there was something more, too.

Now as an adult I have a larger glimpse of what that anticipation was all about: the coming of the King to earth, to love and redeem his children. The preparing of our hearts for a Savior who overwhelms our whole lives with his very presence. The birth of the one who will bring peace and end all striving and sorrow

I believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with the more secular traditions of this time of year. However, when I took a step back and lifted my eyes to Jesus, somehow the stress of tradition, expectation, and limited time faded away. They were no longer burdens, but joys. In the light of Jesus' birth, the reason for all the merriment and gatherings came into focus. I felt not only rejuvenated as we decorated our home and made plans with family, but liberated. Fixing my heart on what really matters made the rest seem much more simple.

Advent means "coming". As we rejoice in the Savior's birth this season, may we also exult in the hope and knowledge that he is coming again. 

I want to share with you an hour long playlist I created of Christmas music with a heart for advent. You can find it on Spotify at this link . While Santa, tinsel, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire certainly have their place in December music, this music has helped me stay focused on the true joy of the season. I hope that it blesses your Advent season. 

4 comments:

Amy Johnson said...

Lovely post, and I couldn't agree more. I used to love Christmas, but it really stresses me out now as well. This year I got a new kitty and I didn't want to decorate because I knew he would just be constantly getting into the decor. The family was so upset with me because I didn't want to decorate so I did to make them happy. Now guess what? The kitten is just destroying everything. It's added so much stress. I try to just let it go, but the mess is hard to deal with.

Sharon said...

We have a big family now--4 generations. So blessed to have all four of our parents and this year all six of our grandchildren, plus our 4 children and 3 spouses. My ideal Christmas would involve everyone getting one gift and everyone giving one gift and then we would do things together, but everyone wants to buy for everyone, so we do things as we can. With four grandbabies under 2, we will just have to do things flexibly and try to focus on the reason. One child and husband don't believe in Jesus, so that adds a heart burden, too. Thanks for the reminder. Visiting from Sisters Spurring Sisters.

Anne Hockenberry said...

I love this! I can so relate and in fact I'm working on a similar post right now. I used to love Christmas and then I think I got burned out. But mostly it was because I had lost sight of what the advent season was really all about. God became man and dwelt among us. The waiting and longing for Christ's return.

Doused In Pink said...

I can relate to this post! The holidays seem to get more stressful every year. Thank you for sharing your playlist! It will definitely help me relax and focus!

Jill
Doused In Pink