By Matt Tullos
Stewardship Development Specialist, TBMB
Here are six ways you can make Christmas a simpler, more beautiful season:
(1) Heighten your gratitude. Paul reminds us that anxiety and gratitude don’t mix: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6).
Once you enter the festival of generosity, an amazing sense of peace flows into your soul. Become a sleuth of gratitude. Search for the hidden blessings that we often forget, but should be mindful to remember.
(2) Lower your expectations. Christmas is hard for people because they set their expectations too high when they reunite with extended family members.
Very few people have perfectly healthy memories with their family. Family is hard work and so lower your expectations that everyone will behave over the few days you are together. You’ll be glad you did. We can’t judge our extended family relationships using the scale of a Hallmark movie where everything is resolved in two hours. We must remember that we are all works in progress.
The longer I live on this amazing blue marble, the more I realize that we are all in recovery from something. For many families the greatest gift we can give each other is just a little more grace.
(3) Check your wallet. You can’t spend your way into reconciliation. I know this will come as a blow to the credit card companies but it’s true. Physical, tangible presents will not change a life, but your forgiveness and unconditional love will. Jesus knew this about mankind: How you spend your money reveals the priorities of your heart.
(4) Slow your pace. You don’t have to attend every party or do everything you did last year. Slow down. Breathe. Rest. Be aware of what you consume. Have a brownie. But not the whole pan. Find the Power button. Every remote has one. Enjoy real people — not just the ones on TV. “No” is a complete sentence. You’ve heard it before but it’s worth remembering.
(5) Slim down the STUFF. Most people spend an outrageous amount of time adding to the stuff they already own. Take time to spend less on material goods, give away what you don’t need and add breathing room in your home.
It begins with simplicity. Simplicity says: It wasn’t mine in the first place. It’s best given away. And once you do, life becomes less difficult. Fewer locks. Fewer payments. Less paperwork. Less maintenance. We can whittle life down to important things and we see that the best things in life are not found in malls. Needful things become fewer. Preoccupation with phantom concerns and paper tigers dissolve.
We encounter God because we have fewer things to hide behind. Jesus reminds us that treasures on earth are so not eternal.
Birds are happier. They don’t worry about their kids when they fly away. They don’t stay up late freaking out about the shortage of worms in the month of June. Just look at those birds and you’ll forget the bucks. The mystery is this: When you cut down on frivolous possessions, your soul becomes more at peace.
(6) Don’t Miss Jesus. The arrival of Jesus will change everything if we prepare. He will come to give us something money could never buy.
- May we not seek satisfaction in the things we touch. He will come to teach us how to live in dangerous surrender.
- May we not seek safety in this life. The good stuff always involves risk.
- May we live our lives by the measuring stick of how well we love each other.
- May we be the Body of Christ.
- May we live with each other in the land of grace.
- May He surprise us this season!
Don’t miss Jesus as we celebrate His advent with simplicity and love.