By: Amy Dalke
Just ask my mother-in-law, who arrived this weekend to celebrate Christmas with us. Her evening meal on Saturday night was a bowl of Cheerios. Don’t feel sorry for her; this is what she chose. (I’m guessing she viewed this as the safest option.)
Given my obvious ineptitude in the kitchen department, the Christmas menu can be daunting. Because to bomb the family meal on Christmas Day isn’t like burning rice on a random Tuesday evening.
My worries track around questions like:
- What will I serve?
- Is that recipe a stretch beyond my novice-level ability?
- What in the world is candied ginger?
- Is it burn-able? (A valid question, because…well, you know.)
- When it’s time to sit down to the table, will I have to explain what we’re about to eat…?
I wrestled with all this Christmas worry…until two years ago when I decided to serve Chicken Spaghetti as our main holiday dish. That decision made the last two holiday meals more enjoyable for all involved, not to mention the amount of stress it relieved. Larry can echo that sentiment, because when I get all wrung out over an issue, the tension might occasionally snap back on him.
At first I felt a little guilty for depriving the family of the American Christmas Classics. But nah, it was probably better to serve something within my tried-and-true capacity, than to ruin them of turkey and dressing forever.
My seasonal worries aren’t limited to the Christmas meal, and I’m sure yours isn’t either. But Jesus said, “…do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on…” (Matthew 6:25).
Jesus went on to tell us how life is worth a lot more than worry.
In Sunday’s sermon, Pastor Ben said that Jesus wasn’t telling us that food and clothes don’t have value. We have to eat, and we’re encouraged to wear clothes. That much is a given. His point was that actively engaging in life today (as opposed to leaping into a tomorrow where our life doesn’t yet exist) is worth much more to us that the clothes we put on our bodies, or the food we put in our mouths.
Jesus wants us to trust HIM to take care of those needs, because after all, anytime the people around him ran out of bread, Jesus made more. He delivered these words to us because He knows it’s hard for us to believe what we can’t see. He realizes that we tend to visualize ourselves rearranging tomorrow’s furniture, and cooking tomorrow’s meals.
Because maybe-just-maybe, if we can fix tomorrow before we get there, we are somehow controlling the outcomes. (As if.)
Jesus knows that our eyes can’t reach into the future, so he lovingly instructs us to hang up the worry hat- because he knows how much worry steals from today.
We miss all the LIFE in today when we insist on rehearsing anxiety over things in tomorrow’s calendar space.
But when we choose to trust, rather than worry, we have more available space in our minds to be present with our families. I’m pretty sure the entire household benefits from a joyful mom versus Momzilla whose soul is strung-out-ragged from a crushing load of Christmas stress.
We can’t do a single thing about tomorrow; or the 9 other days between this one and December 25th. Because we aren’t there yet.
And is it ironic that we worry ourselves threadbare, in an attempt to “perfectly” celebrate the birth of the One who said “Don’t worry…” in the first place?
If your holiday preparations have been weighty and worrisome so far, it’s not too late to change how you experience the rest of the advent season.
Choose this day to celebrate Jesus right where you are. As you prepare the house for guests, as you shop, and as you make your grocery lists, you can deliberately choose to turn off the worry button. (Even if you have to make that choice every five minutes.)
Instead of rehearsing 32 different anxieties, choose to look for the 10,000 reasons you can take joy in this moment, believing that Jesus will meet you tomorrow with more than enough.
p.s. I’m (possibly) going to try cooking a turkey this year. Thankfully, this family has learned to roll with the cooking punches; so an overcooked turkey wouldn’t be the end of Christmas. (Also, we won’t starve either way.)