I’m a beautiful mess this time of year. And I’ve learned that’s okay.
For years I lost precious sleep, valuable hair and added circles under my eyes to achieve the perfect Christmas. For my kids. For my husband. For my church. For my own ridiculous ideals. Christmas is the mother ship for us perfectionist types. Correction, recovering perfectionists, because that’s what I am.
I wanted to give my family the Norman Rockwell paintings of Christmas memories. You know, something they could look back on and say, “Ah, those were the good old days.” I nearly made myself a nut job in the process.
Ironically, the best memories our little family have made have been from the things that went horrible wrong…the goof-ups, silly disasters, and laugh-out-loud mistakes. Those are the things my kids will remember. Perfection had no part of those special moments.
Living without grace can and will kill you. It’s a miserably hopeless existence. Not much joy. No freedom. It’s impossible to pull off anyway. Forget about the perfectly decorated tree, the swept floors, the homemade everything, the house that smells like cinnamon or the brightly wrapped packages that look like they were designed by Martha Stewart. During the past few years, I’ve slowly learned to the let that extra ‘stuff’ go. You know what I’ve discovered? Christmas is a much more joyful time of year for the loss of it. God has birthed the simply joy and beauty anew in my heart. And He reminded me once again why He sent His Son. I didn’t need a friend. I didn’t need a Being to impress with how well I’ve got it together. No, I needed a Savior. I’m a broken mess in need of the beautiful Hope only He can give.
I’m tired of bulldozing through Christmas like a Type A beast. All it ever did was make me a grinch. It’s time to let go of the perfectionism and find the beauty that made the King of the universe lay down His crown to come to a broken world of desperate people. No greater act of love has ever been given.
How Miss Perfection Stole Christmas
Every kid down in Coolville liked Christmas a lot, But Miss Perfection, who lived south of Coolville did NOT! Christmas drove her crazy. The whole Christmas season. Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason. It could be because she wanted everything to go just right. It could be, perhaps, because she needed anxiety meds at night. But I think that the most likely reason of all, was if she messed up, she’d feel unloved by one and all.
She’d fight the crowds with a sour, Grinchy frown, and zoom in her minivan all over town. Shopping and baking and parties and planning, wrapping and photos while dreaming of tanning. The mess! The stress! Made her long to punch an elf in the midst of his chest! “If I could just disappear. But Christmas is coming. It’s practically here!” The children were fighting in their sleep-deprived state. She wasn’t faring much better staying up nights so late. “It’s just part of the season,” she told herself time and again. But His still, small Voice began to whisper within.
As the whirlwind of tinsel and glitter increased, her joy faded away. How could this be? “I remembered the ribbons. I remembered the tags. I remembered the packages, boxes and bags.” She puzzled for hours, till her puzzler was sore and continued to think as she entered the church doors. As the pastor read from Luke chapter two, she remembered how God came down as a Babe…and she knew.
“I’m not perfect, I’ll never be. That’s why God sent a Savior for me. Jesus died to give me freedom from this kind of living. Instead of “perfection”, I need to be giving!” And what happened then? Well, in Coolville they say, Miss Perfection’s joy grew three sizes that day! She put down her ‘to-do’ list and played with her kids, laughed, made memories and closed her weary eyelids.
The last thing she did that made her heart dance with light? Miss Perfection threw out her copy of Christmas Done Right.
My heartfelt thanks to Dr. Seuss for the inspiration.