Friday, December 19, 2014

The Danger of Christmas Expectations

Yesterday I started crying in the check out line at Walmart.

These were not the sweet tears of observing a tender moment. 
They were not tears of heartbreak from witnessing a person in need. 
They were not wistful tears of remembrance from precious memories of Christmas past. 
They were not heartbroken tears over the lives of the childrens' home residents I was on an errand to serve. 

No, these were the frustrated tears of a person who was busy with 'good' things and frustrated with unmet expectations of other people. So many things in this world are worthy of  my tears, but poor service and a packed schedule trumped them all. Yikes.

I left margin in my Christmastime and 'other people' were eating it up. My joy was temporarily replaced by bitterness. The list in my heart of blessings for which to be grateful got eclipsed by a FAR SHORTER list of the things that were not going my way.

Because I am a do-er, learning how to also be a breather-er, notice-er, sit at the feet-er, I am always drawn back to the story of Mary & Martha welcoming Jesus to their home. Maybe it is because I so identify with Martha that I tend to be an apologist for her...but the reality is that she just had a moment that Jesus addressed and we get to dissect.

Martha was a hard working, good hearted, doer of a woman who got distracted. Even as Jesus spoke to her about her attitude, it wasn't the work that got was her focus. She was "worried and upset" having a pity party, casting blame and missing the point.

Like me at WalMart (and truth be told, a few hours later with my children), she lost her perspective. I had great plans for a service project with my kiddos after school and instead of mature-for-their-years cherubs, they acted like wild ten year olds who had just been dismissed for Christmas Break. Real life crashed into my Norman Rockwell ideals. I was undone not so much because of their behavior but because of the perfection I had hoped for. In my quest to make a moment, I instead made my people miserable. 

Thankfully, His mercies are new every morning and today is a brand new day. I have a chance to choose joy today--to exhale and refocus when frustrating situations occur. I will not punish people (in retail or in my family) for not meeting expectations that in most cases they never signed up for. 

My children are out for break. We are BUZZING with energy and anticipation. And I am teetering with a choice to make between stress and peace. I want to chose joy instead of frustration.
Wonder instead of expectation. I can't 'manage' the magic and joy of children. I have to learn to breathe and enjoy.

Lord, please keep my 'plans' realistic,
my patience overflowing,
my list of blessings in the forefront 
and my grievances, worries and upset entrusted to you.

In a noisy world and a chaotic season, keep my heart quiet and focused on love, joy & peace.  


Jeannie said...

Just what I needed to read this morning. I always love that you impart wisdom while keeping it honest and real! I, too, am a Martha and need frequent reminders to choose the better thing! Merry Christmas!

Carri said...

Very good! Thank you!!

Sam said...

Great, honest post that I bet we all could benefit from. I certainly can!

Eleanor said... thank you! This is so me. I seem to do this to my family every year and they are adults! I so relate and am so grateful you are willing to be honest enough to write it dow. Have a joyous and beautiful Christmas! You are loved!

The Rohman Family said...

I can so relate to this...after yelling at my 6 year old last night and then apologizing afterward, he said, "Mom, I'm sorry, too, I'm just so HYPER! I think it was the sugar at school." HA! At least he has some insight! I have to remember that the excitement of this season should be enjoyed rather than punished.

Denise Ross said...

You're so where I am right now. I've tipped up my baking to do list and am cutting my expectations back. I'm tired and stressed and tired of pushing for this ideal perfect Christmas.