“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Last night, I sat in the floor of my shower for over an hour. The scalding hot water poured over my flesh. I buried my head in my knees as the water trickled down my body.
I needed a cleaning. Not from outside dirt, but from inside dirt.
My mouth had spoken words that were not grateful or holy. My thoughts had been filled with anxiety, worry and fear.
The day was spent shopping with my husband. Beginning with a beautiful church service, then off to our favorite town to shop.
Somehow, somewhere along the way, I felt anxiety writhe my whole being. As we shopped for kids and family, I could feel the mounting pressure. I wanted to run. Far away.
I just felt the overwhelming pull of fear that what we were getting wasn't enough. It would not put a smile on the faces we were purchasing for. It was meager, or so it seemed.
My mouth even uttered the most horrible words perhaps my lips have ever formed..."I hate Christmas."
I know. I know.
What was wrong with me??
My husband turned to me and said, "What??? You love Christmas more than anyone I know."
I shrugged my shoulders holding back tears.
This is the part that I didn't like about Christmas. The pressure that I put on myself. To measure up. To do more than I knew we had. To spend more than I knew we could afford.
This is the part that I teach my kids about. Shaking my finger in their faces about the "true meaning of Christmas".
Yet, here I was...
Full of bitter gall...
Full of anxious thoughts...
Full of the pressure to give a gift that would knock the Christmas socks off of a loved one...
The exact opposite of the true meaning of Christmas.
As I sat in my shower, washing off the crud of my thoughts, and my words....
Hot tears steamed down my face.
The pull of the world was fierce.
The pull of the enemy was fiercer.
Whispers of the enemy's lies were ringing in my ears.
Your gifts will never be enough.
You will never be enough.
I began to do war with those thoughts the most powerful way I knew how...
Reciting God's Word. Over and over.
This time is was Psalm 23.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need.
Then, I turned it into these words...
The Lord is my Shepherd, the kids have all that they need.
The Lord is my Shepherd, my husband has all that he needs.
The Lord is my Shepherd, my loved ones have all that they need.
Because, somehow, I had bought into the lie that we needed more.
That I needed to give more than I had.
That they needed to receive more than I could offer.
And the thoughts of disappointed faces as loved ones opened gift that were in my "budget", made me cringe in fear and anxiety.
Was this really what I believed Christmas was about?
Do I teach my children one thing, yet act out the exact opposite of my teaching?
Do I believe that the three wise men's gift to the Son of God had the ability to ruin the whole blessed nativity?
I know better than to believe these lies.
Christmas is not about the gifts.
But, the Gift.
The Gift to us.
To my heart and to yours.
The present of being Present with us on Earth. The Son of God....in all of His Glory.
This past weekend we traveled out of state to see family. One of our dear family members has cancer spots. In so many places.
He received the best news he could possibly receive this week.
The treatment is working. The cells are shrinking. A miracle.
I asked him how he was "doing". I asked him how it felt to have to wait, and wait, and wait....before receiving life-giving or life-taking answers.
He looked me straight in the eyes, his hair short and shorn from treatment, and spoke these words..
"I live in the present, Jill. I don't look back and I don't think about tomorrow. I live in the fullness of today. The present is my miracle."
I felt the air being released from my pent up, stress filled, anxiety ridden heart.
His words popped the hardened bubble of discontent that was encasing my heart.
The room blurred for a minute. I could just hear his words, almost in slow motion.
Not really his words, but God's words to me.
The present is my miracle.
I had spent so much time worrying about tomorrow and the outcome of my Christmas gifts to others...the money stretching....the time crunching....
That I had missed the present miracle of today.
The miracle of being present.
Not thinking racing thoughts about how little time, how little money....
But, how much.
How much miracle I had.
In each moment. Full of family. Full of laughter. Full of love. Full of life.
The present is my miracle.
Lives lived looking back, or looking forward will miss the miracle.
Lives lived in the present, and in the Presence of Jesus....will be wrapped in the miracle.
Capture your thoughts today. Reign them in. Look around you. Beside you. In front of you. Lock eyes. Lock hands. Lock hearts.
Embrace the miracle of the present.
Embrace the Present--Jesus.
Tomorrow will hold new miracles. But, only if you find the ones today.
The Lord is our Shepherd, we have all that we need.