I don’t know about you, but with the holiday season in full swing I find myself building towers of great expectations. Like sand castles carefully crafted in my mind, I begin to delight in the soon to be; the holiday dream of Thanksgiving Gratitude and Christmas Cheer. Unfortunately, this dream is filled with pesky stipulations and impractical ideas of perfection that surpass what reality can offer.
You see, I am slowly learning that my expectations have a habit of distracting me and leaving me a bit disappointed by the real and authentic holiday experience. The real and authentic will be filled with grocery lists and dirty dishes, bathrooms to clean and laundry to do. The real and authentic will include family disagreements and recipes that don’t turn out as Pinterest described. The real and authentic will look more like the broken string of Christmas lights I found in my basement than the Martha Stewart magazine cover I stare at in the grocery store check out line.
The truth is, to experience the real and authentic Holiday season, I have to focus less on my expectations and more on my Savior; more on the baby in the manager. More on the miracle and less on the material. More on Him and less on me. And… if I am honest… isn’t that how it always is, this life. Personal expectations distracting and robbing joy, only to find true joy when I refocus on Him again. Refocusing. Washing my mind in His word, reminding myself who is central, taking myself off the thrown so Christ can rule and reign in my life.
Recently, while praying with a close friend she shared a vision with me; a picture, with a symbolic meaning. The memory/ vision that the Holy Spirit brought to her mind during our time of prayer was from her teenage years as a life guard. You see, she was in the pool and had a question for a fellow life guard who was standing on the pool deck. The life guard on the pool deck couldn’t hear here and felt a sense of urgency to reach his fellow guarder of life. He was a particularly fun person and the kids loved him so as he moved toward his female coworker the boys in the pool began to swarm around him in an effort to play. He responded as one completely focused on his goal, reaching his fellow life guard, and pushed each of them safely into the swimming pool. Her picture was one of an individual so focused on his goal that he forced all distractions out of his way. She shared this picture with me during our prayer; a humorous memory from her past, that now carried an incredibly important and personal meaning for my present. Stay focused. Push the distractions and cares out of the way as I reach for the upward call of Christ Jesus. Discern what matters and what doesn’t, then refocus.
Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”
This holiday season and everyday that follows, I want to run the race God’s called me to and avoid the trap of expectation and distraction.