I lay here the night before our family Christmas celebrations kick off. 6 different celebrations in 4 days. All equally important and a must. Sweet memories waiting to be created.
I am ready…almost.
I felt completely ready earlier today, even heart ready. Somehow I managed to buy and wrap gifts, decorate, bake, organize groceries and dishes to take to all of those celebrations, have a clean home and laundry caught up, all in time to enjoy and focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Yes, I’ve worked hard, but it was not frenzied or overwhelming. I started early in the month and little by little got it all done. I’ve been able to enjoy the process and not get caught up in the perfectionism that I’ve fought in past years. I felt peace, excitement and an anticipation of celebration. And then…
… disappointments come and my heart feels fragile and all the sudden I am not ready.
I read Ann’s words:
What if I laid down efforts and expectations, perfectionism and performance… and simply waited with arms and heart and eyes wide open?
Christ the Babe comes in Christmas just as Christ the Savior comes on the Cross — seeking only our embrace.
This is so what I want. What I long for. Arms, heart and eyes wide open ready to embrace this Christ child. I see much progress and growth in my life, Christ’s faithfulness. He has widened my eyes and strengthened my heart and taught me to wait through a disease named cancer. Efforts, perfectionism, performance–these strongholds no longer earn big titles in my life.
Yet, tonight I struggle with the one called “expectation.”
Expectation is an interesting thing. It usually involved others, which I find makes it easy to blame those “others” for my own problem of expectation. The “what should be’s” and other’s shortcomings muffle and confuse. It is especially confusing when the things that I expect are considered good & right. The problem is this… I feel this tug in my healed yet diseased heart. I’ve said it before, I am such an emotional being–I feel deeply. These feelings and emotions cause me to battle & turn inward and which inevitably, in time will cause me to spew my hurt onto the one who is hurting me. I am finding I take things quite personally. Defenses go up, I see things that are that shouldn’t be, I find it unfair & I try to play God.
I am learning that expectations are quite ugly. They are selfish and cause me to battle self righteousness and the desire to control another person.
A thought that keeps popping up in my brain is “I’ve worked so hard to make Christmas beautiful and what it should be. I’ve done heart battle and conquered issues I usually would struggle with. Because of this, I have expectations that it will be precious.” Do you hear the hint of control? It CAN be precious…as long as I don’t put my expectations on another and allow their behavior to define mine or my experience of Christmas.
But .. the squabbles come, and my heart aches, and my feelings get hurt.
Ann starts the above questions with “What if we laid down expectations…”
Laid down. Released. Let go of. This is the opposite of control, the opposite of what I’m so ready and eager to do when disappointed by another.
But, that ‘other’ is God’s.
God created them. God loves them. God is trustworthy. God is in control, not I. Nothing comes to me that He is not aware of.
So I whisper to Him in the midst of hurt. I ask for the Prince of Peace to come. I think of how Emmanuel is with us, with me. I keep releasing, not into mid-air, but unto Him.
I am handing my expectations over and when my heart aches I will take it to the only One who can heal it. I’m ready to do battle with my emotions and not use them as an excuse to take the fight into my own hands again. I will open my clenched hands of control so that they may be empty to embrace this Christ child. I will receive this season however it may come to me. Oh may He give me the grace to do these things that I say I will do, so that I may be ready to celebrate.