Friday, December 25, 2009

Great Expectations

After waiting many long weeks Christmas morning finally arrived. We spent time shopping and thinking about what everyone would like. We spent a lot of time wrapping presents last night. After everything was opened one of our kids (who shall remain nameless), started crying and angrily yelled, "You are meanies!" Apparently she didn't get everything she wanted. That was just the reaction we were looking for.

The problem is that you cannot possibly get everything you wanted when you wanted everything. Again, who can blame them? All the hype, commercials, catalogs and people asking them what they want just causes them to dream. And in America we teach our kids to dream big. Nothing you can imagine is impossible.

Some things are impossible. Some dreams are too big. Even if we had the money, we still would not buy them everything their hearts desire.

After my initial frustration with the lack of thankfulness I actually felt like I could understand. I have high expectations of holidays too. I dream of my house to be perfectly decorated and clean and beautiful food on the table. I'd love for my kids to be dressed nicely and have combed hair. I want to wow my kids with their gifts. I want it to be a perfect, gleaming day of joy and happiness.

Sometimes the kids are still naughty. The food may not be perfect. Sometimes the house is messy or there's a blizzard preventing you from seeing family. Maybe your family gets sick or the present doesn't work out. Does that make it a bad Christmas? or a bad life?

Having it all is a lie. I think that's why so many people are disillusioned with life. We all build up impossible expectations. That was a big problem in my marriage and parenting. I thought it would all live up to my dreams and it doesn't. Just like the presents under the tree won't be perfect either.

That's not a bad thing. In my imperfection and failures, I've found peace. I don't think the answer is to lower our expectations and give up on joy. The answer is to give up our desires to Christ. The answer is to put Him first. After that everything else is filtered through his grace and peace.

As we have imperfect Christmases and days, I want my kids to learn that it's not about the outcome. The key to joy and peace that we can't understand is in Christ. He is peace. He came to bring us peace.

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Micah 5:4-5
He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace.

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

When you believe and live that, the details don't matter. A blizzard or the flu can't ruin Christmas. Not getting the gift you wanted doesn't mean a temper tantrum. Joy and peace don't come in a package or in family or food or lights. Joy and peace are always flowing from Christ. He is the source and it is always available from him in good times and not so good times too.

That's the best Christmas gift we can get. It's the best gift we can give. The joy and peace of Christ that, despite the odds and trials of this world, results in perfection.

Romans 14:17-18
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.


The Bergman Family said...

Oh, man... we had a similiar situation at our house. Joe sniffed and said, "I got TOO MANY BOOKS!" and I got after him for being ungrateful. *sigh* Yours is a good lesson for the other 364 days of the year too.

Deb Hansen said...

Won't our first Christmas in Heaven be just perfect! Everything we view as being perfect here just won't compare to Christ's perfection.

I too have had all the same expectations. This year I just relaxed and told myself to just enjoy. We had a very simple Christmas this year with a few gifts. I was worried that Hannah would feel that we had cheated her because we paid for Esther to fly home to be with us this year. When we were done with the gifts, Hannah commented "Mom I think this is the best Christmas we have ever had." Wow I thought she is really maturing, but I also think that my attitude about not panicking over food, clothes, decorations... helped her see what the true meaning of Christmas is all about. Boy I wished I had learned this so much earlier in my lifetime, but I am thankful how the Lord has been working in me and showing me areas that I just need to relax and be content in.

Thanks for sharing from your heart!

Praying for you as you minster there in your church and community!


Christy said...

We're making guesses as to who the unnamed child is. Lindsey guesses Maren. Emily guesses Maren or Annie. Cory guesses Michelle.