I can go to the mall and it's just like any other time of the year- no CHRISTMAS-SALE! ONLY -- MORE DAYS TO SHOP! signs to draw me in promising to fill my shopping bags and empty my wallet simply because it's that time of the year.
My senses are not overloaded with the unnecessary. No one over here has an elf on the shelf. No one is mailing Christmas cards or lamenting the "costs" of the season.
(Of course, it's sad that on Christmas Day when our living room is abuzz with the account of Luke 2 and wrapping paper piles up as little ones squeal over new toys, everyone else is going about their daily business. And I miss seeing lights on houses, and being invited to Christmas parties, and eating every dessert on the table because hey, it's Christmas!)
Maybe you're finding yourself buried in lists of "stuff to do/get/buy before Christmas". Maybe you're dreading the credit card bills arriving next month because you have found yourself spending more that you should. Maybe the whole season seems riddled with selfishness and materialism to you... If that's you-- STOP AND EMBRACE THOSE FEELINGS. If something doesn't feel right, or you find yourself doing just because the culture around you is doing, stop!
As easy as it should be to keep my Christmas simple, I don't. I want to give my husband and my children awesome gifts. I want to outfit the house with more red and green and lights than is tasteful. I want to pick the best gifts for extended family and friends. I want to make the most delicious cookies and desserts. I always want to throw a party (or two)... Even with all the American hubbub of Christmas removed, I still want more! want bigger! want more expensive!
I was moved when I read this in Valley of Vision recently:
Heavenly Father, if I should suffer need, and go unclothed, and be in poverty, make my heart prize Thy love, know it, be constrained by it, though I be denied all blessings. It is Thy mercy to afflict and try me with wants, for by these trials I see my sins, and desire severance from them. Let me willingly accept misery, sorrows, temptations, if I can thereby feel sin as the greatest evil, and be delivered from it with gratitude to Thee, acknowledging this as the highest testimony of Thy love.
So many Christian families I know in America just seem to be going along with what our culture has said Christmas should be. We are letting the culture define a sacred time of celebration for us as believers! Friends, how can that be? Advent should be a joyful time of watching for his coming. Instead we've made it into a party for us- presents for us, desserts for us, parties for us, clothes for us, more than we need for us.
It's not easy to say no. I don't even live in America, but that didn't stop me from checking out Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals online. I keep checking and rechecking my gifts list and then buying something else because it doesn't seem like enough. I've had my tree up since before Thanksgiving, and I get a red Starbucks cup every time I'm at the mall.
Praise the Lord it is His mercy to afflict and try us with wants, so we can recognize our lusts, our selfishness, our pull towards culture as sin and desire severance from it!
Are you with me this Christmas? Can we stop when we feel those wants creeping up? Can we be still when our lust pleads with us for more? Can we praise God for afflicting us with wants this season, so we can ask forgiveness and be severed from those sins?