The season of giving is upon us, with the much more aggressive season of getting riding its coattails – and actually getting closer and closer to overshadowing the giving every year (I’m looking at you, 7 PM Thursday sales for Black Friday). I KNOW it is only October, but for you fellow Christmas-lovers out there (I may or may not currently be listening to Christmas music), a post about Christmas might spur on your love. For those premature Christmas-celebrator haters, read on and keep the eye-rolling to a minimum. I have a point.
A hardened, me-centered heart doesn’t soften and look outward overnight. So I’m bringing this up in October – and please believe me when I tell you I am talking about myself probably more than any of you. Also believe me when I say this is not an easy post for me to share, because it requires me to do some self-examination and make hard changes.
I LOVE the holidays. I love family, friends, music, food, parties, presents, lights, decorations, laughter. Perhaps only Buddy the Elf has a love for Christmas that compares to my own. But somewhere along the way, I’ve gotten the idea that I deserve lots of nice, beautiful things for Christmas, and at random intervals throughout the year. As much as I cling to Christ and profess His name, American commercialism and consumerism have done a number on my vulnerable, too easily-satisfied heart.
When I was 7, I wanted the Felicity American Girl doll for Christmas because she had a canopy bed, as advertised in the catalogue. Here’s the thing about 7-year olds: they don’t have great to-scale perceptions, so I though the canopy bed would be for me. I was excited to get Felicity on Christmas, and disappointed that her bed was not Caroline-sized. I tell this story sometimes, and it’s humorous, but I’m afraid I haven’t grown completely out of my childlike, stuff-centered desires.
As the years went on, I have wanted new phones or iPods (sometimes both at the same time), toys, clothes, books, stuff, stuff, and more stuff. I foolishly feel more mature, because my wish list has expanded to Crock Pots and throw pillows instead of new gadgets. I am constantly cleaning out my earthly collection of stuff to make room for more stuff. The tiny house fad appeals to me so – but then I think, where would I put my stuff? I want to travel the world – but could I just put my stuff in storage until I get back? My earthly belongings chain me down like a prisoner in his cell – and if they are this constraining to my selfish desires, how much more to advancing the case for Christ.
Perhaps this is why Jesus said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter heaven (Mark 10:25). Perhaps this is why Jesus warned about the dangers of storing up treasures on earth instead of in heaven – because where my treasure is, there my heart is (Matthew 6:19-21).
God expects a lot from those to whom He has given a lot (Luke 12:48), and I’m afraid I’ve done a pretty sore job of using my things as blessings to others by clinging too tightly to them. I’ve not used all my kitchenware to cook meals for the hungry – only those who would be impressed by my nice plates. I’ve not given my pretty clothes to those who are naked – only the old clothes I’m done with. I’ve not invited the homeless to sit on my nice couch and have a coffee from my Keurig – only those who won’t get my stuff dirty and can admire my cute house and decorating skills.
So my challenge to you and myself this holiday season is this: don’t ask for anything. Resist it to the chagrin of your family members and friends. Ask what you can give them, and more importantly, what you can give those who can give you nothing in return. It hurts me to issue that challenge, but that must mean the Spirit wants me to share it. I would love to hear any blessings that come from this, and I’ll keep you updated on how I’m doing. You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org to share!