Right now we are visiting Josh's family for Neisler family Christmas. It has been lots of fun, of course, but I have been humbled as one by one, my own insecurities (which I thought no longer existed), materialism and altogether self-centeredness have been unveiled to me.
See, I tend to enter these big family events with a motivation to prove that I am totally into the family and sort of shine as a big helper and buddy for everyone. I don't WANT to be like that, I don't set out on the trip intending to be this way. I just slip into this "character" like I slip into jeans that are ill-fitting and unflattering. I hate the way I look the whole time, yet bothering to go change into something more appropriate is too hard.
Apparently I love to be a martyr. This is what happened today. We were having a surprise party for Josh's dad this morning (he turned 50) so we all had to get up early and get to the grocery and make all the food and have the party set up by a certain time. So I let everyone else get a shower first, and consequently didn't get to get one myself. After the party, I was flying around cleaning, organizing, carrying out all presents and leftovers (thinking in the back of my mind how hardworking I am). When we arrived home (Josh's mom and I arrived first) I washed up all the dishes, helped Josh's mom make up our list for tonight, cleaning, organzing, and wishing I could just go get a shower real quick (and starting to feel envious of all the clean tidy people around me). Well, you might imgaine the rest of the story. I kept busy helping and being on everybody's team and trying to make everybody have fun. That is not so restful. You cannot rest if you are always looking for a chance to shine. By the end of the evening, I had really worked up the martyr mindset. We played Bingo with prizes (annual tradition), and I didn't win once, even though everyone else won multiple times. But I, the good model-daughter/sister-in-law did not complain, and cheered for everyone, even though I had in the back of my mind the ugly thought that I wished they would let me win because I had been so nice all day, and I was everybody's favorite in the family. I also snapped a couple of times at Josh's siblings (all grown-ups) because I was irritated or offended that they were not thinking of me as the model sissy-in-law.
Where do these self-centered thoughts come from? I have longed to be centered on Christ in my thinking and affections this Advent season, but all it takes is one long day of celebration, and my hidden desires spring forth. I am ashamed. I wish I could rewind the Holiday and just worship Jesus and not myself.
So I am sharing this because I don't feel it is too late! I am going to read and read and read my Bible tonight, and talk to my Sweet Jesus and ask Him to forgive me for showing off at His birthday party like a five-year-old younger sister who is jealous of their sibling getting all the gifts. Don't let this be you! A holiday is unfulfilling if anything besides Jesus is our focus. Don't let it be gifts. Don't let it be food. Don't let it be decorations. Don't let it be Christmas movies. Don't even let it be your kids, your significant other, your mother, your favorite Christmas songs. Ask the Babe in the manger to show you how you might kneel humbly before Him and give Him a precious gift like the Magi: your attention.