Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Choices at Christmas


Do I buy him a race track or farm set? Her a doll or dishes? Do we open gifts on Christmas eve or Christmas morning? Do we go to his parents or mine? One piece of fudge or two??

Christmas can be a time of choices - gifts, decorations, parties, food, the list goes on and at times it can be overwhelming, but it’s not just the holidays when decisions need to be made. No, daily life does that all on its own. We are constantly making decisions - some big and others small, but they are decisions just the same. Sometimes they are ones we expect and have come to make with relative ease and yet others it can be a choice that is a challenge or one we didn’t see coming at all.

Recently I found myself in a place of pain, a place that brings choices as well. It wasn’t that long ago, so the memories are quite fresh. From the outside all looked fine - a new baby, a healthy family, a newly released book, the opportunity to have been part of a wonderful women’s retreat and on and on. Life was good, but still I found myself slipping back into a place where I had once been. I could smell the storm coming - the storm of depression that is.

And though it wasn’t a holiday, that situation created choices too - do I admit the pain or appear like my life is perfect? Do I accept help or pretend I’m super Mom and do it myself? Do I internalize everything or open up? Do I trust others or turn to God for help? Believe me for awhile I made the wrong choice each and every time - someone would ask ‘how are things going?’ I’d respond, “crazy at times, but it’s alright.” They’d ask, “do you need a meal?” and I’d think why’s that necessary when I’m taking food to the field. Occasionally I’d drop a hint that I was a bit overwhelmed but when others didn’t pick up on it my mind would think if it’s not obvious to them, the pain must not be real. Instead I’d think, I’m just weak, which only lead to me closing up and feeling worse.

I’ve been in the pit of depression before and it’s never a place you want to be, but this time it was different. First of all, thankfully I didn’t fall as far as I have in the past and it wasn’t a constant state. This time I seemed so aware of what was going on, but that didn’t make things any easier. Though I knew the down times wouldn’t last forever some days were hard. But yet pride won for awhile as I put on a smile and tried to keep it all together. Eventually though I admitted things weren’t the way they should be. I was exhausted, easily upset and a bit overwhelmed with life. I felt weak, hypocritical and like it was all my fault. And worst of all I was doubting God and the plan He had for me.

Once I finally shared a bit of my struggle with a friend she shared some words that went to my heart - “You have to park your mind on what is true and worthy of praise. The enemy wants to consume you with disappointment and sadness but you don’t have to let him. It’s up to us my friend - only you and I can decide who we will listen to.” Now I’m not saying the battle with depression is always won by making a choice, at one point in my life medication was the answer, but this time the choice was mine. The words of Psalm 40 came to mind, “I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”

These words didn’t magically make things better, but they helped me focus on who is in control. And as I focused on Him in this time of pain He continued to work in me and make Himself real. That doesn’t change the circumstances of my life right now - the lack of sleep continues, the mountain of laundry grows and the work never ends, but His strength lifts me up.

And one morning as I laid in bed praying for the very thing, He put a verse on my heart - John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son that anyone who believes in Him shall not parish but have eternal life.” It’s a verse I’ve known for years and one even my kids can recite, but on that morning I looked at it in a new way - God didn’t just love the world, He loved me and ladies He loves you too. I’d understood that for years, but still the choice is mine to believe it. Do I believe He loves me enough to give up His son? Do you?

I do and perhaps you do to, but my recent struggle has shown me that it’s not a one time decision - daily we have a choice. Revelations 3:20 shares Jesus words, “Look here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.” He is there but it’s our choice if we let Him in. Just as the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can cause us to lose focus of what Christmas is all about, the demands and duties of life can cause us to forget who life is all about.

So today before you are faced with another holiday decision, I encourage you to take a minute and forget about the money and the gifts you’ll be giving, but instead focus on what matters and think about what you are willing to receive. In a few weeks we’ll have presents under our trees, but I pray you remember the only gift that lasts is found on the cross. As the chaos gets crazier and the kids excitement grows remember over 2000 years ago God so loved Wendy, Al and Anna (insert your name) enough to send His son to be born in a stable and die on a cross to give the gift of eternal life. Whether it’s in the stress of the season or the drudgery of life don’t forget He stands at the door and knocks and like my friend said, “the decision is ours.” Make the choice to let Him be your guest this Christmas.


5 comments:

  1. Jill, this is excellent...and your talk at MOPS today was too! Thank you for sharing of yourself and being honest. Very good! I love ya, friend!!

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  2. Hey! Your book is out! Congratulations! I don't know how I missed that.

    These are good words. Pride is a terrible foe to battle.

    I'm glad you won this one.

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  3. Wow.
    Thank you.

    I can't say much else beyond the threatening tears.

    God bless,
    Heather

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  4. Yes my friend, the most precious gift we can receive.

    Depression is so rampet these days. I find it rears its ugly head when I am most vulnerable. Ps 40:1-3 is a beautiful piece of scripture to cling to in those time. Another thing is to praise Him, praise Him and praise Him more! Praising God in every situation WILL result in a changed heart.

    Have a blessed CHRISTmas friend!

    In his Graces~Pamela

    PS: you always take at least two pieces of fudge!! Its good for the soul!!

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  5. Jill,
    Your posts are always so inspirational to me. It seems they come when I need to read these things. Your writings give me more strength then you will ever know!
    Thank you!

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