Contentment is not the first word that comes to mind when I think about Christmas. Nope.
The world pushes in with big expectations at Christmas. A whole new layer of distractions lures away my already distracted mind. Parties to throw and attend, gifts to be bought and wrapped, cookies to be rolled and baked, and a home to be decorated and lit. Life gets squeezed out in the dashing to store specials, and agonizing over home messes. We lose our patience, sleep, and scotch tape. The season can demand more time, money, and energy than we truly have.
We push hard.
At times we push so hard the important One
gets pushed out.
we miss giving the most important kind of gifts.
The Jesus-tag gifts.
The gifts that give over and again.
Not ones that tempt you to spend beyond your means, but ones that are life-giving to all involved.
I know you want the best for your family, and would do anything for them, especially at Christmas.
But for you who struggle financially, physically, or emotionally, and simply can’t buy your dearest ones everything they want on Christmas morning . . . it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap even among your safe friends. **She has this and is getting that, and they have that and are getting this.**
The temptation to spend beyond your means can be great, but don’t be lured into self pity . . . You, nor your children, are to be pitied.
There is an unobserved wealth that’s birthed in not getting all that you want when you want it.
Your young will learn that “no” and “not now” will serve them all their lives.
They will be in position to know how to live when things are difficult and how to live when things are prosperous. They will know the secret Paul speaks of in Philippians 4.
“I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of facing either poverty or plenty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me.” Phil 4: 11-13 Phillips
After 40 years the Stanford researchers, involved with the well known Marshmallow Experiment, verify that those who are willing to wait for two marshmallows, instead of immediately eating the one in front of them, are those who experience success in life. Those who can delay gratification (which is a learned skill) will know the wealth of contentment.
They’ll learn they are capable of waiting, or working, for something they really want. It will give them the necessary experience to understand what it’s like to enjoy something even more because it didn’t come instantly.
They will appreciate the gifts you give them because, if not at first then eventually, they will know the price you had to pay. Not the monetary price. The invisible price . . . the love price of the ache in your heart because you could not afford to give them what they wanted, and the sheer joy of when you could make it happen.
They will notice, and remember, how you spent time together doing the simple things that really mattered like letting them put the chocolate kiss atop the peanut butter blossoms, using whatever cookie cutters they wanted to make the cut outs, and creating Christmas ornaments from pine cones, paper, and popcorn . . . even if they didn’t look as good as the ones on Pinterest.
When your daughter becomes a grown woman she will be capable of much because she will know how to create goodness from almost anything. And when your son becomes a man he will know what it’s like to be without at times, and how it shaped him into the hard working, caring, young man he has become.
No, my friends, don’t go in debt to get everything your sons and daughters want or they will miss out.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”