I wonder if anyone else felt it… that anti-climactic feeling once all the gifts were opened and the paper was trashed. A feeling like that of all the air whooshing out of a balloon leaving nothing more than a limp, lifeless piece of rubber in its wake.
See, for weeks and weeks all this air gets pumped into the doings of Christmas. And like a balloon, Christmas, and all the expectations of Christmas, grows bigger and bigger…
Yes, anticipation looms large. So much hope. So much to look forward to.
But then something sticks a pin into all your thinness. And all too soon, the build up of Christmas gets expelled in one heaving rush leaving you motionless on the couch in a confused state wondering if it’s ever going to be different. Because it seems as if every year the wonder of the season gets lost in a crumple of tissue paper and cellophane. And inevitably, something will overshadow what should be a joyous occasion.
Or perhaps it’s just me.
Maybe I’m the only one who encounters the Christmas let down. The feeling of expectation being unmet…
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you for such a long time?” John 14:9
The gifts did it. Something about the presents this year just popped my bubble. Or my balloon.
It started the week before Christmas. That’s when my son had a taste of the let down. When my brother’s family and mine met for a meal and a gift exchange with my Dad.
See, I’d picked out something for Daddy to give to my son. And I knew it wasn’t stellar. Had a sense of doubt as Levi specifically told me he was outgrowing Lego’s. But I thought I knew better. No, we were going to try Lego Technics and surely he’d like those. They were a step up.
But he didn’t like them. Not at all.
Oh, he’d been so excited to open his bag. I watched his face intently the whole time and when I saw the flash of disappointment as his eyes met mine, I felt the same. Because I’d picked it. I chose a gift for my son but I’d failed.
Yes, I know… Christmas is not about the gifts. Not at all.
But this is my son. I’m his mother and I should know him. I should know him well enough to easily select a trinket that would bring him delight. Shouldn’t the parent know how to give good gifts?
Anyway, that’s where it began. Levi’s disappointment in his gift. And my husband and I knew we had another one just like it under the tree for Christmas morning. A big, expensive box of Lego’s that wouldn’t do. Because it was a larger version of the Lego’s Levi didn’t like. That he specifically told me he was outgrowing.
And so, we had him open it. We let him return those Lego’s along with the others. Furthermore, we allowed him to choose his own gifts at Wal-Mart days before Christmas. A LOT of Nerf stuff got shoved into a bag and stuck in the corner with instructions to not touch till December 25th.
To further compound things, I felt like Levi was getting the short end of the stick this year. I thought I’d lavished Annabelle with so much that I needed to do a little extra for him. The result was my son got more material items this year than he should have. His pile was HUGE.
I was so ashamed. Even thought we should return some but Jason told me we just couldn’t do that… that you don’t give gifts only to take them back.
So basically, I wasn’t feeling great come Christmas evening. Sad that too much effort and time had gone into toys and gifts. Guilty I purchased more items than I should. And that my son picked over half of them. Angry because I didn’t put enough emphasis on what really mattered.
But you know what? It was something I received that shed light on my general feeling of malaise. Yes, the root of the Christmas let down was revealed when I, like Levi, opened a bag. And surely when I peered inside, my eyes reflected the same disappointment he’d felt days earlier…
Because what I saw wasn’t me. Not at all. Not my color, not my style. And when I looked at it, I thought, “Don’t you know me? After all this time, don’t you know me by now?”
And this is what I stewed on Christmas night as I lay on the couch. This is what darkened my countenance and what caused my husband to ask, “What’s wrong with you?”
Simply, I felt let down because my expectations had been high. And they were unmet. But mostly, I felt sad because I didn’t feel known by someone I love.
But He replied, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, I do not know you [we have no relationship]. Matthew 25:12
I read the above words this morning and they moved me. They made me sad. Sad for the ones told this but also a bit sad for how I’ve handled Christmas. Because truth be known, I believe I may have been the cause of a let down a time or two. Even this year. I really think I could have done better.
With my son. The Lego’s. With my husband. The shirt he returned. And with others. I think I could have put more thought into what I wrapped up.
But the reality is the key to a good present is wrapped up in relationship. It hinges on intimacy. It’s really knowing who you’re giving the gift to. And on the first day of 2018, this becomes one of my goals. A resolution, if you will.
Yes, this is the year I want to make time for more intimate moments. I want to be a better listener, fully present, and more observant. I want to really know my people…
All of them.
The ones God’s blessed me with – near and far.
I want to be intimate with my people. Available. And when Christmas rolls around in 2018, I want to be ready to give gifts they will like. No, I want to give gifts they will love.
Because I’ll know them – inside and out.
For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him… Philippians 3:10
I did get some good presents this year. Yes, there were a few items I simply loved. And I believe that’s because the givers know me. They really do. They understand me. And I swear, it was almost as if the hand of God directed them in what they gave…
One was from my mom. It was this picture of me and my kids. It says happy. Did she know how appropriate it was? That it’s where God has led me in my journey with Him thus far… leading me to be happy right where I am in my motherhood. His urging me to stop pressing forward too quickly looking to the next thing.
The busy thing…
Instead, He gently holds me still with my children. Because this time is fleeting. It’s important. Later, I can do that other stuff. For now, be happy where I am.
And my husband gave me some Rodan & Fields product I wanted. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t specify, “I want this…” Jason simply listened and secretly purchased what I wanted. He bought me something He knew I would like…
He also gave me a Bible. It’s purple. The Amplified version. I was thrilled because my last one fell apart. I literally wore out my Bible. The funny thing is, Jason gave me another 21 years ago. Inside he penned, “The keys of life – and beyond – can be found in this Book.” Turns out he was right. I can’t wait to delve into this new one to see where God leads me…
And finally, I got this sign.
Oh, there were other gifts, but these are just a few of my favorites. And my friend who brought the above knew I’d like it. She told me once before she doesn’t give gifts just because there’s an occasion – she gives only if she finds the right thing for the right person. And I like that…
Anyway, she can’t know how much the present means to me. Because it confirms my “word” for 2018. The word I feel certain God gave to me. And I’m so grateful to see it…
Because I didn’t receive a word last year. In 2015, it was “rally” and 2016 was “battle.” But this past year, nothing. Finally, in October, I felt a stirring in my spirit as I kept seeing strengthen.
Then my friend brought me this sign.
Oh, I knew strengthen was confirmed by the word established. Yes, I truly believe God will do this for me in the coming days…
I’ll even be able to carry a sign. One that says, “Pam Anderson, established 2018.” Just like the signs I see on the beautiful estates that dot our countryside.
I believe this because of what I read in the 5th chapter of 1 Peter. What promises I find there… but first, Peter warns of an enemy who roars around like a lion, fiercely hungry, seeking someone to devour. A picture of what took place with me.
Because I’d rallied and I’d battled but I ran away in defeat. Retreated in the face of attack. And it appears I allowed my enemy to gobble up all God’s promises. Because I just forgot about them.
Unfortunately, I allowed that enemy to shake me. I lost my confidence and became unstable. I swear, every weakness I ever had was sifted to the surface. But you know, that ended up being the best place to be. Because that’s exactly where Christ’s strength is made perfect… in all my weakness.
Further, I’m encouraged that if I resist the devil, firm in my faith, God will perfect me. He will stablish me (make me stable). Yes, God will strengthen (make strong) and settle me (establish).
God’s promises. I will be established and strengthened.
And so, as I usher in this New Year, I am highly expectant. For this is the year! And I know where to start. It begins with the foundation of knowing Him.
I mean really knowing Him. Relationship and intimacy.
So I make Christ my aim. I purpose anew to know Him and I do this by pulling out my new Bible. I soak in His words. And while I do this, I comprehend what a pure gift it is… each word from God so perfect because He knows me that well.
Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God]. 1 Corinthians 13:12
Yes, it’s true I ended the holiday season with a Christmas let down. But I didn’t stay down for long. Because there are those who know me so well. They lifted my spirits. And these, among others, are the ones I want to be more intimate with. Because I want to love them as well as they’ve loved me. I want to give good gifts as they’ve given me.
It begins with intimacy. Attentiveness. And listening well. That’s why they knew how to pamper me with loving gifts. And it’s their very gifts that point the way to go this year.
A Bible, a picture and a sign.
One contains words of life – the keys to life and beyond. One gives a gentle reminder, to find happiness where I am. And the last confirms His promise to me. His gift of stability and strength. Oh, it’s coming.
And what amazing hope this is for the year to come…
Hope for me, Pam Anderson, a woman established by God.
And with that, the Christmas let down diminishes altogether as a puff of air fills my balloon. And it’s all Him. For all Scripture is God-breathed. It’s the very breath of God that inflates my balloon…
But not just my balloon. Because as His breath enters my body, my whole spirit soars with Him. And I am filled with anticipation. Buoyant with expectancy…
It’s a New Year lift up, is what it is.
Yep, that’s what I encounter as I welcome 2018.
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights… James 1:17