This post is written by contributing writer, Kimberly
Mercy: A compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power. A blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion. Compassionate treatment of those in distress.
It’s that time of year again. The season that makes your palms sweat, your head ache, your calendar bulge (along with your waistline), your bank account shrink, and your blood pressure rise. Yes, it’s The Holiday Season.
There’s a part of you that wants to tell me it’s not like that – that The Holiday Season is full of family, laughter, child-like wonder, and generosity. But there is another part of you that can’t help but recall memory upon memory of Thanksgiving Disasters and Christmas Fails.
We tend to let The Holiday Season stress us out, don’t we? Everything has to be perfect. We have to find an amazing gift for everyone on our list. We have to have the most delicious food at our dinner table. The kids have to be perfectly behaved. We have to pretend our in-laws aren’t driving us crazy. We have to wear the most gorgeous dress to the neighbor’s party. And we have to plan and execute all of this with the same 24 hours a day and seven days a week that we always have – time doesn’t slow down just because we have more to worry about.
But why, exactly, do we let The Holiday Season weigh so heavily upon us? If we turned to our Bibles, we would see that Matthew tells us not to be so anxious.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. ~Matthew 6:25-33 ESV
Does this change your perspective? It certainly makes me pause and think. Matthew asks a deep question here – Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Applied to The Holidays, the question could be: Aren’t The Holidays about more than just what we’ll serve at our table, what we’ll wear to that party, and if we’re able to perfectly please everyone we’ll spend time with?
And the answer, of course, is Yes. God knows exactly what we need, and if He feeds the birds and prettily dresses the lillies, He will certainly make sure our needs are cared for. But we must seek Him first. We need to turn our focus away from the trivial holiday pursuits that command so much of our attention, and turn toward the kingdom of God. If we make the Lord our priority this season, perhaps we’ll find that we feel more joyful and relaxed during The Holidays.
So, sweet sisters, my challenge to you is this: show yourself mercy this holiday season. Treat yourself and your time with compassion before you get caught up in the overwhelming stress and exhaustion. Spend some quality time with God, and let the peace He brings you spill into every aspect of the season.
Build a snowman with your kids instead of shoving them into itchy dresses and ties. Let yourself laugh at that burned turkey, and serve chicken breasts instead. Take a walk with your husband to enjoy the Christmas lights in your neighborhood, instead of worrying so much about your own Christmas lights. Meet a dear friend (or a new one!) for peppermint hot chocolate instead of slaving over menus and gift wrapping. Lavish yourself and those around you with mercy, and maybe you’ll see that Matthew is right – life (and The Holidays!) is about so much more than what we’ll serve and what we’ll wear this season.