An Ounce of Christmas Courage

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I overheard someone talking the other day about their lives leading up to Christmas. How they felt there were so many things to attend to that their days and evenings were already filled up for the next week or so. They didn't feel they had room to decline any invitations because people might take offense and this is just not the time of year to cause anyone offense.

There are many things to do and many things to be done these days, especially in regard to Christmas. It seems to be the particular time of year that ensnares people into unwanted commitments and a series of expectations that just make you crazy.

It's a time of year that demonstrates more than any other time, that your family is near or far, and how many friends you have, or even how you deal with manipulative guilt. Yes, how you deal with guilt.

Some feel totally directed by it and give in to it and obey its demands in their lives. While others reject it and fight it, being pushed past their limits and react violently against those they may care about.

Is there some middle ground where we can, unmotivated by false guilt, make clear wise decisions about the season and our calendars, and lovingly communicate those decisions to those closest to us, and just live in the freedom of that grace? Can we decide which functions we will be in attendance at and which celebrations we will enter into and feel nothing but deep abiding peace when we spend an evening at home instead, playing games with the kids on the floor or climbing into a hot bath with a good book for an hour?

Some would pull out the heavy guilt guns and call this selfishness but I'm not sure it is. If you care about the others wouldn't you be better off to spend an evening at home, taking it easy, so you are in better shape for the party tomorrow night? As opposed to being out every night, wearing out what precious little energy you have left?

Lauralea and I have been in the process of planning our yearly Christmas open house, but we feel the pressures on families and the expectations and demands they face each day. Would it be better to not host an event and offer them the exquisite pleasure of a night off? Isn't that an amazing Christmas Gift, the gift of time? Yet I know that guilt being the insidious creature it is, pressure would be brought to bear on them to use that free night in a different way.


It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Live in the law of love and lay down your life for your husband or wife, your children, your parents, your friends, your God. Only, don't live your life by the raw demands of guilt, live by the constraints of love.

That's my Christmas wish for you this year my children. Live well, and love well.
And that's a whole different kind of living than living life by the heaviness of guilt.

1 comment

  1. There is a fine line between guilt and obligation, no?

    And sometimes we accept the obligations because we love the person we are with. Not sure if that qualifies as freedom but maybe, if in fulfilling the obligation we put the needs of the other above our own?

    Life can get quite complicated.


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