Why You Really Are Prepared for Christmas. {Even if You’re Not.}

prepared for Christmas header

One of my favorite Christmas posts, edited and reposted from the Christmas vault:

It will be a Christmas memory for the archives. All five of us, on December 13th — just two weeks behind schedule — traipsing through the Lowe’s parking lot to find our family tree.

It was a soul-sucking vignette, to be sure. Megastore garden center at night. Vacant cinder-block stalls, emptied of the best trees. Bad fluorescent lighting that reflected off the cement and handed me a shot glass of depression. The whole scene felt a bit like prison.

2014 — The Year The Vischers Bailed Out a Christmas Tree

One child stood in the corner, arms folded and scowling and I can’t believe this is the tree we’re getting!

The other two pushed each other around on the flatbed metal carts because their mom was too melancholy to care. And my husband, God bless him, channeled his inner Clark Griswold and assured his disgruntled family that this was indeed a fine tree and that we were going to have a hap-hap-happiest Christmas after all.

We drove out of the parking lot as the kids complained about our small-statured tree and how we’re putting it up late this year and why aren’t there lights on our house and so on.

I simply stared out the window in silence. As we drove home, my husband asked me what our schedule looked like this week and when no answer came, he looked over and saw tears rolling down my cheeks. Of course he asked what was wrong and all I could get out was, I’m just overwhelmed.

We didn’t realize until recent weeks that the last half of 2014 was tougher than we’d acknowledged, an extended season of physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational stress that gradually seeped in without fanfare or acknowledgement. Sometimes we’re so busy putting out the fires and making the decisions and dealing with the issues at hand that we don’t realize we’re actually drowning. The waters have risen, ever so slowly, and we find ourselves gasping for breath.

Or in my case, crying on the way home from Lowe’s and telling my husband that for the first time ever, I wish we could just skip Christmas.

And then there’s the guilt. December 13th and no Christmas decorations. No advent readings {because the books are packed up in boxes} and therefore no hearts “prepared.” No intentional memory-making endeavors like gingerbread houses and Christmas lights and tree farms and putting on the ornaments while we pass the hot chocolate.

JOY

For the mom who’s overwhelmed by her stress, her lack, her distraction, her loser-ness, there is only one answer.

To be overwhelmed by grace through Christ. 

I can look at the expectations, overwhelmed by how I’m coming up short. Or I can look at Jesus, overwhelmed by his sufficiency.

I can look at the all the moms getting it “right,” overwhelmed by my pitiful comparison. Or I can look at Jesus, overwhelmed by his favor for me.

I can look at my kids’ expectations, overwhelmed in a torrent of guilt. Or I can look at Jesus, overwhelmed because there is no condemnation for those who are in Him.

In far too many moments, I’ve been looking in the wrong places for approval, affirmation, and joy. And I should know my now — that always leaves me gasping for air, emotionally bankrupt, and reeking of self-focus.

Why are we so prone to define ourselves by what we’re doing {or not doing} instead of what Jesus has already done?

It’s been a December in which I’ve been ambushed by my culture’s expectations, others’ expectations, and my own expectations instead of overwhelmed by the simple yet profound truth of the Gospel.

But it’s still December. And I’d love a do-over. I long to shift my gaze.

Because even if the tree never went up and the cookies never got made and the advent readings never got read, Christmas would still come because Christ still comes.

And when He showed up on the scene over 2,000 years ago, no one was prepared, not even his own family. There was no matching layette, no birth plan, no carefully prepared suite, not even a room at the inn.

Do we think Christ’s humble beginnings were a result of poor planning or just happenstance? Do we criticize Mary for not having it just a little more together, seeing as how she was getting ready to birth the Savior of the World?

Of course we don’t.

Because God isn’t a God of coincidence, the world’s unpreparedness was no coincidence.

If your own Christmas preparations feel behind, pitiful, or less than enthusiastic, you’re in good company.

Christ came to the unprepared, the unlikely, and the unsuspecting. And He didn’t show up with a checklist. He showed up with compassion.

During this crazy week, know that it’s never too late for your heart to “prepare Him room.”

And though He is God in the flesh, though his glory is beyond our comprehension, He is the most gracious guest for whom we’ll ever prepare. He’s not impressed by lights or tinsel or even our intentionality as parents. He doesn’t require garland or even a Christmas tree by December 1st.

He simply asks that we receive Him — just as we are, just as He finds us.

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You may also enjoy:

Why Compassion is the Answer to a Messy Christmas

What an $18 Fake Christmas Tree Taught Me About Saying Yes

This 4-Part Advent Series from 2014

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