Nearly twenty years ago, I journaled about a holiday moment in my life that was filled with more stress than love. On this particular occasion, I was worn-down by trying to do too much decorating, shopping, cleaning, cooking and entertaining.
At that time, my husband wasn’t as involved in helping me with those kinds of responsibilities, mostly because I didn’t ask him to help.
Why didn’t I ask him to help? Well, for lots of reasons …
Some of those reasons were …
- I felt guilty asking him to do things he didn’t like to do.
- I felt like those tasks were a “wife and mom’s” role.
- I wanted to impress my family and friends.
- I wanted to give the very best to my children.
Can you see the pride and fear running through each of those reasons?
Even the idea that I wanted to give the very best to my children was wrapped up in pride and insecurity.
Sadly, as I worked myself into the ground during the holidays, my children did not receive the best of me—more like the worst of me. I was also inadvertently teaching them to be more concerned about the “getting” of Christmas than the giving, as I sacrificed my presence for their presents.
[bctt tweet=”Are you sacrificing your presence so you can give presents to your children this holiday season?” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
I’m currently offering a Facebook study on “6 Shades of Love” based on the many ways the Bible calls us to show and experience love. One of the verses and studies that hit me right between the eyes was …
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” ~Matthew 10:37
This verse is not saying we shouldn’t love our parents or our children. It is saying that we cannot love our family members more or even as much as we love Christ, because to do so means we shortchange each and every one of them. That’s what I was doing during that holiday season so very long ago. 😦
Though I thought I was loving my husband by not burdening him with a shared holiday load, I was really loving myself more because I didn’t want to deal with the conflict or awkwardness of asking for his help.
Even though I thought I was loving my children by giving them a beautifully decorated house, filled with thoughtful gifts that were wrapped with care and scattered abundantly under the tree; I was really loving myself more. I wanted them to be impressed by my artistic and sacrificial efforts
done for their sakes done for the sake of my own pride. Looking back on it now, I think they might have seen through their mother’s posturing, as most children easily do.
If I had only paid attention to Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:37 and poured myself into loving Him first and foremost, then I might have seen through some of the lies I was embracing.
I might have recognized that I needed to love by setting limits on what my husband and I could humanly do at a busy time of year.
I might have recognized that, even though my sons asked for light sabers, video games and Legos, what they really wanted was an attentive and energized mom and certainly not some frazzled and cranky shadow of my former self.
It’s always a subtle shift from being cautious about what we commit to during the holidays to overdoing it. We don’t see it snowballing into a huge avalanche until we are barreling midway down a hill at breakneck speed!
So let me leave you with some questions that might be helpful for evaluating each holiday responsibility you’re considering taking on.
Am I …
- Avoiding asking for help from others out of guilt, fear or a need to be independent?
- Doing certain things in order to gain admiration or attention, more than to show love?
- Making the holidays all about getting rather than giving to Christ?
If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, then consider what loving Christ above your family would mean instead.
[bctt tweet=”Love Jesus first and foremost and the rest will fall into place. #Lovemorestressless” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
Click the link to read more posts from this series “Loving Strong through Holiday Stress.”
What holiday responsibility or experience stresses you out more than it shows love to others?
In what way are you inspired to show greater love to Jesus this holiday season and beyond?
Are you interested in a preview sample of this particular day’s study notes from the “6 Shades of Love” Facebook Bible study? Then click here. Want be added to this private group? Then friend me—Beth Oster Steffaniak— and request that I add you to the group. You can join at any point, accessing the “Files” so you can start and go at your own pace through this six-week study. Once you’re in the group, “you” can also add your own Facebook friends who would like to added to the study as well.
Here are some lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me Monday, Moments of Hope, Literary Musing Mondays, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Break Through Homeschooling Linkup, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Faith and Friends, Fresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday