Last year, our Christmas season was chaotic. Crazy. It was completely out of control. We had parties and dinners and events and plays and special church services, and before I knew it Christmas came and went and I didn’t feel like I had enjoyed much of it. Last year, Christmas busy-ness took a lot of the fun out my holiday. All of things on my to-do list were good, worthy, fun, things. But, it was too much. It was more than one family could possibly accomplish with any type of enjoyment at all.
So, this year, I was determined. I made sure my calendar didn’t get filled up with too much “fun.” I decided that our family was going to slow down, really experience the season, and enjoy every moment of the next month.
But, now December is here. And, my house looks like a Christmas tornado hit. The decorating is getting tedious instead of fun. The laundry is piled up. Tonight when we sat down to read the first night of our advent book, I felt stressed. The kids’ room is disastrous. The boxes of Christmas decor are strewn all over the house. Lots of things in here are half-done. Somehow we don’t have enough hangers for all of the clean clothes that are laid out in the laundry room. Socks don’t match up. And someone really needs to sweep and mop, wrap Christmas presents, clean toilets, clean out kids’ dressers and closets, and find the multiple missing shoes that we are always looking for.
After I got the kids in bed tonight, I looked around this place and felt that familiar feeling washing over me: I was overwhelmed. Overcome. I felt defeated and discouraged. I wondered if I would ever be able to dig my way out of the mess. I wondered if Christmas is going to speed past again this year while I fulfill all of my obligations and try to keep this family in clean underwear.
Martha would understand. If only she were here, busy Martha, who always had projects going. She was always taking care of things, working herself into a frenzy over the decorating and the laundry and the food prep. Martha worked hard, and she was well aware of it, too. If she were here I’ll bet she would whip this place into shape in no time at all. She would see the value in a clean, well-decorated house. She would agree that the kids’ shorts really need to be in boxes in the garage instead of in their drawers, mixed in a haphazard manner with their sweaters and scarves. Martha would look around here and see all that needs to be done, and she would do the work until it was finished. She would host the best parties and shower everyone with top-notch hospitality. And, if Jesus came to the door, she would usher Him in and then rush to the kitchen to make sure all of the food was going to come out perfect. And, she would certainly double-check the bathrooms for cleanliness in case He needed to go.
When He repeatedly called her to come and sit with Him, she would laugh and say, “Just a minute! I need to do one more thing!” And, before long, she would look up and the party would be ending. Jesus would kiss her and thank her for hard work, and then He would go on His way.
And, Martha would sit down, finally, and put up her feet, and wonder how in the world that she managed to have Jesus over to the house without actually hanging out with Him. She would go to bed worn out, but no different. No better. Without any new insight into who she is or who Jesus is. She would just be tired. And maybe a little sad, because Jesus sat in her home and she did everything except sit at His feet.
I love Martha. I totally get where she’s coming from. But, I don’t want to end up flopping down on the couch at the end of another busy Christmas season and realize that I managed to miss Jesus in all of the holiday madness. I don’t want to worry more about what people will think of my Christmas tree decor than I do about the attitude in my heart toward the baby in the manger. I don’t want the piles of laundry or the ever-missing shoes to distract me from what the next three weeks are really about.
Don’t worry. I am going to finish decorating my house and get all these boxes out of here. I am going to continue to wash underwear. I am going to host some parties and go to some fun events and be involved in special church services. But, I am also going to remember that none of these things, as important as they may seem, are more important than sitting at the feet of my Savior, welcoming Him in with adoration and an open heart and a listening ear.
So, even if I can’t cut down on the many jobs I have to do this Christmas, I can at least adjust my focus and remember that Christmas is really about Jesus showing up. I want to rest there, in His presence, even in the midst of the busy-ness of this season.
I may feel overwhelmed when I look at all of the jobs ahead of me this month. My hands may be busy, my feet may be running, but this Christmas? My heart will stay close to the manger, close to the peace and the mercy and the joy of God with us.