Giving Ourselves Grace for the Holidays
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." -Galatians 5:25
As I sip a cup of late afternoon coffee, I am happily looking at my Charlie Brown Christmas tree. We had to buy it--it was only 25 pounds. But it will fit in with all of my other pieces of home art that are a little bit worn, a tiny bit awkward.
My home is eclectic. Some things are old, scarred but still lovely. I put a colorful cloth over them and call them classics. Some of my things are like the Velveteen Rabbit, worn but well loved.
And that is how my very good life has been--beautiful and wonderful amidst many mistakes, many flaws, many immature moments. Yet, God's grace is like a beautiful cloth that covers the scars on my well- beloved old tables. His love and grace cover my imperfections. Now, as I visit with my adult children, they never say, "Remember the times our house was a mess." or "Mom, I remember a day when you did not have perfect behavior."
Instead they say, "We belonged to one another in our home. We celebrated life. We ate a lot, enjoyed Christmas cakes and cookies and had endless movies, cups of tea and hikes. What a precious life we had together with all the love we needed."
As you enter a new holiday season, decide ahead of time that there will be disappointing moments, not all things will go as planned and someone might even get sick or a favorite activity you hoped to attend may be cancelled. A year of Covid has certainly stretched all of us in learning to deal with disappointed expectations.
Determine that the most important gift to give this season is a heart determined to cultivate joy, and words of life that encourage. If you can prepare your heart for this commitment ahead of time, and decide to cultivate joy every day, messes and mess-ups will not cause you as much anxiety. Decide ahead of time to celebrate the moments as they come, to love generously and give forgiveness always, and you will enjoy the days God provides.
The grace of God is given in spite of our circumstances. His peace comes when our difficulties would suggest otherwise.
While it is incredibly wonderful to set our standards high and live out great ideals, we must hold ourselves to a standard of grace, not perfection. We won't be able to have grace for our children if we do not have grace ourselves.
At advent, we remember He came with grace and truth to bring life and wholeness into our hearts, because his heart was filled with compassion for us. He still has that same care for us today. We strive to follow His example in the lives of our children. We do not have to live by the expectations of culture, but we are led by God. We walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and rest in His abundant grace and love. This is the way our celebration of advent will be remembered by our children as the best time of the year.
Sally Clarkson is an author and speaker who has shared for many years about the value of motherhood and the potential for the home to cultivate life, love and faith. Find her at www.sallyclarkson.com