What is it about Christmas? …about the feelings this time of year brings about in us?
The stage is set in our intentions:
the twinkling of lights,
Christmas cookies baked by the dozen,
the wow gift for each of our loved ones,
a fresh-cut tree brimming with ornaments,
a crackling fire,
Christmas songs lulling us into a smile,
peppermint cocoa brimming our cup,
the sound of laughter,
the feeling of contentment,
[cue the softly falling snow].
How many of us experience the idyllic Christmas of our mind’s eye? Sure, we find it in our head, and we have meaningful intentions in our hearts, but there’s a gap in what actually transpires as we ready ourselves for the season.
What are you really looking for this Christmas? …and can it be filled by the things of the season?
Be encouraged to seek and to search. Feelings can be a challenge to deal with, yet spending some time with them can help to bring about a clarity which equips us with the courage and expectant hope to be more real in our own head and heart.
This is a continuation of a previous post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.
And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. ~Ecclesiastes 4:4
The Comparison Trap: Week One, Day Five… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:
“Chasing after the wind.”This Scripture verse concludes with a mind picture we can all imagine. Outside of the context of the verse, it’s one that makes me smile… how about you?
I have a big backyard, and the winds blow here almost 365 days a year. I’ve seen dust devils, snownados and whirlwinds of leaves dancing all over the yard, so I can just imagine myself in the midst of it.
I see myself fruitlessly chasing a copper-colored leaf across the yard and into the meadow. I see myself getting caught in the vortex of one of the dust devils or columns of snow, and and I then see myself being overwhelmed by the messiness I feel when I’m able to escape the whirlwind as it dies down.
Chasing a leaf on occasion might be fun, but being caught in a storm of dust or blizzard-like snow does not. For any of my scenarios to happen regularly… well… it would get old and seem meaningless. I wouldn’t find myself smiling, then.
Sandra Stanley starts the Day Five devotional with a question that leads me to imagine these things, and she concludes it with, “What a waste of time. That’s the way it is with envy, too. Envy accomplishes nothing.”
Isn’t that the truth!
Comparing my circumstances to others only causes strife in me. Comparing my successes to others only puffs me up in pride. Comparing my shortcomings to others only rattles my self-esteem. Comparing myself to others is not what God has intended for me.
When I want more because my neighbor, girlfriend or co-worker has it, an ugliness enters into the situation and into my desires. I tend to think less of them and less of myself. That’s meaningless, and I’ll tend to find myself working, thinking, and planning around the “thing” I’m chasing in the moment. That’s meaningless, too.
In the devotional, Sandra urges us to ask God for clarity (I’ve found myself yearning for this in my present life, yet I am not chasing it) in recognizing when we spend time in comparison, and to also give us eyes to see the worthwhile things on which our attention and efforts should be focused. That is meaning-full!