Many times I can feel in a moment if I am fully there. I breathe deeper the crisp air of gratitude, and my lungs seem to expand more in these moments. It’s because everything in me – physical, mental, spiritual, emotional – is begging for these moments of my complete presence; for my own awareness and savoring of my current state of being.
Yet, I am often very forceful in my treatment of myself. Because my every thought gives wings to at least ten more in a split second, I feel this pining to physically keep up. I can be writing a letter with dinner on the stove, thinking about how I need to vacuum, light candles, unload the dishwasher, and clean up my crafting before guests arrive. Oh, and you better believe about 20 different emotions are emerging from their cocoons only to be fighting for air in a suffocating space with 19 other feelings. And I do not have the time or capactiy to process and shape these in a healthy way.
I think this is the root of the hundreds of people, women in particular, crankily swarming the streets of my city today, on the eve of Christmas Eve.
You see, today I had an encounter that made me think…well…gawk, and then think. In the parking lot of Trader Joe’s, I witnessed a grown woman exchanging tantrum-like behavior with a young couple. The words I heard being yelled from her car window to the walkers were:
“UN-BE-LIEV-ABLE! GO HOME!”
“I ARE HOME! I AM FROM HERE!” (the woman of the couple yelled back)
It was the oddest thing. As I appreciated the flower display out front of the store, I head this grumpy lady, from her car window, yelling at another poor parking lot victim!
These are always the moments I wish I had the rapport and authority to have a sit down with said grumpy person. I wish I could hear what she was actually thinking, feeling. I am sure I would hear words like, “I am in SUCH a hurry and they walked out in front of me!” or “I have SO MUCH TO DO, and I have the kids and my in-laws are on their way….” Or maybe she and the walkers go way back, or are family even. Who knows what background story there may be!
But here’s the thing, WHY does Christmas bring out this sad but real reaction in some people? WHERE does this pressure come from? Essentially, I am the only one who gives permission for this “stress of the season” (family, work, schedules, travel, you name it) to take over my mind, body, and spirit. When did this lady give permission to stress that it should completely consume her to the point of breaking? What is she expecting of herself? Oh, yes, there it is. The real question this holiday season: What are we expecting of ourselves? More likely than not, it has something to do with our need to perform and be accepted by those we are entertaining or spending time with this Christmas. But honestly, WHAT IS IT WITH THE PRESSURE OF PERFORMANCE IN OUR CULTURE? When did we begin to believe that we had to look a certain way, cook a certain way, be a certain way to be loved, valued and accepted? Isn’t the whole point of growing up growing into who we were created to be in our truest, simplest naked form?
As I enter adulthood, I have already received a greeting from the expectations of the culture around me. Husband – check! Job – check! The ability to sound like my life is perfect when everyone asks me – check! Books of the Bible memorized – check! (haha) Deep inner longings for a time that once was or will be one day – check! NO. THANK. YOU. Wanting, wishing and waning have robbed me for too long of living.
Thank you, Jesus, for this beautiful life. To the world, I may be “just getting by”, but my heart is soaring in the JOY that is this season. All of heaven echoed the Father’s Joy as he sent his Son to fulfill the plan creation ached for to be put into motion. JOY TO THE WORLD.
Beauty, abounding love, and acceptance beyond compare is what I have found in life today. And here I want for nothing.
Thinking it through, we are celebrating arguably the most exciting, extravagant outpouring of LOVE to ever grace humanity’s existence.
So take a deep breath and really let that sink in. Let it overcome what you are feeling towards the to-do lists, dirty dishes, unorganized room, your passive aggressive asking for help and line longer than you wished to wait in at the store.
Just let yourself be. Give yourself permission to release the disappointments of your season and savor. Drink in deep the calming breath of peace that has been waiting for you all season long. The time to simply be has begun. And yes, I am speaking to myself.
Merry Christmas and JOY to the WORLD!