When Guilt Threatens the Gift

This post comes from a Christmas Letter written 8 years ago when we were in the THICK of Calendar Overload.

Noah (7) yelled wildly from our downstairs family room, “I found him. I found him!”

“Who?” I hollered back.

Noah jumped up the stairs and ran into the kitchen. With all the fanfare he could muster he proudly announced, “Jesus” with a whirl of his arm and a twirl of his body. We had been looking for HIM all month.don't let guilt threaten the gift

I laughed out loud. It was December 22 and it had been a long month. It was busy—way too busy and Jesus seemed nowhere to be found. Our large, hand-made living room manger remained empty all month. (We couldn’t find the doll that had always been a perfect fit.) My heart, too, became increasingly empty through the incessantly long days and short nights of December. Chaos reigned. Quiet was nowhere to be found. Maybe Jesus would be part of our Christmas celebration after all.

Last December we entered 21st century living and the calendar over-load it creates. For the first time ever, we had multiple children in multiple activities: Boy Scouts, band, choir, basketball, school Christmas programs and the growing list of social gatherings for our “new” teenagers. Ugh!

I was living for 8:30 pm on Thursday, December 21. Although there was still one day of school left, the madness was going to be over. I had plans for that night! It involved quiet, Christmas tree lights and me hunkered down on the couch with a steaming mug of spiced licorice tea.

Instead, crisis erupted at 8:22 and by 9:42 pm Sam and I were on our way to the ER. We didn’t get home until 5 the next morning. Sam would mend. I was not so sure I would survive. I was winded, weary and sinking fast. Finding Jesus that afternoon was exactly what I needed.

Jesus changes things. He does. He introduces me to a quiet that replaces my inner chaos. He infuses hope into my healing. He reveals a purpose for my pain. Our baby-doll Jesus had been there all along, just hidden. Jesus (the real one) had been there, too, amidst the madness of December. He, too, was buried beneath an avalanche of relentless demands and distractions.

Will this Christmas be any different? There are no easy answers, but I am wrestling with the notion that my “yeses” to the good things of Christmas may translate into a “no” to the God things of Christmas.

If you’re like me, we all could use some prayers on this one. It’s not easy. Guilt loves to rear its ugly head. (You know, the “gotta bake, buy, wrap and run” jingle that unmercifully rages through our hearts and minds.) But guilt threatens the Gift. When guilt wins, Jesus remains boxed up, neglected and we travel through yet another Christmas depleted, empty and poor.

It’s a far cry from why He came.

First time here?

4 thoughts on “When Guilt Threatens the Gift”

  1. December, the month of anticipating the day of rejoicing. We do put so much pressure on ourselves with the to do lists, the how to manage lists, and the worry of doing it just right. We’re so busy being Martha that we forget to sit at the feet of Jesus like Mary.

    “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42, NIV)

    It’s always a good reminder we are better to listen to the Lord at his footstool than run around like Banshee’s. Brenda I pray you and yours have a wonderful-joyful-simplistic Christmas filled with His blessings.

    • Erin, Thank you for your sharing your journey and passion for the road less taken — and for your prayers for our family. We have added 3 people into our circle this year, as our son, Sam, married a lovely women with 2 little ones…Sierra, Sonia (2 1/2) and Liam (1 1/2). They will be with us 10+ days over Christmas. New Adventures require commitment and some creativity when it comes to keeping (some margin of) rhythm intact. Yes! We will have a full house and full hearts this Christmas!
      May your journey be star studded — a bright light in the darkness!

  2. Beautiful, Brenda. May we all find Jesus within before we explode from the pressure the world puts on us. May we be still and see what really matters. There are so many things that pull our hearts and attention away from the True Light. It’s Jesus’ birthday celebration. Why do we forget to invite Him to the celebration? Lord, forgive us. May remember Who this is all about.

    • Betty, It’s a daily joy and challenge. We are so temped to “be movers” in this world, forgetting to “be moved” by the One who changes everything. EVERYTHING !


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