I’m pretty sure that the holiday season does something twisted to us. The commercialism of the season seems to undermine my sense of contentment. The turkey coma has not fully worn off before it’s time to battle the crowds searching for the best deals. My time giving thanks for what I have is quickly replaced with a plan for moving on to acquiring more. I set out my most comfortable shoes and breathable clothing as my combat-shopping attire, maximizing my ability to execute my Christmas Shopping Battle Plans. My grace is replaced with a strategy for securing my list of holiday wants.
It seems odd that we desire to be around family, to find joy and happiness in others, to buy gifts for loved ones, and genuinely to make others feel good, and yet that whole process can leave us grumpy and angry. In our desire to create the perfect holidays, disappointment triggers our wickedness as we run from one sale to another, hoping to find that one toy, that one scarf, that one gift before they are all gone.
After we push people out of our way, elbowing our way to the coveted prizes, and snag that last gift off the shelf, we move to the line, and wait. All the while, our patience slowly drains through our feet and flames begin to rise above our heads. We don’t have time for this! There are other gifts to buy, other places to go, other lines to stand in! Why can’t everyone simply MOVE FASTER!
And then we snap. Either mentally or out loud, we make comments to and about people. I’ve personally gotten internally frustrated when credit card machines don’t work. My irritation rises when coupons, cash, gift cards, and credit cards are all used for one transaction slowing the payment process to a crawl!
When my grace meter is low, anything and everything tips me towards anger and frustration. This season should be filled with grace, hope, patience, and merriment, yet I am at times devoid of any of these. I know its cliché, but there’s value in the question of “what would Jesus say if he witnessed how we chose to celebrate his birth!?” Guess what--he is seeing it! Last I checked God was still fully aware of all we say and do. Whether we speak it or think it, it is known to him!
Paul writes in Galatians 5:22-23 that the “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Which means when we are standing in that line to buy that last Tickle Me Elmo doll, or whatever is the big trend, these fruits must be evident there as well.
We are to model love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control to others, even to the unhelpful sales clerk. Even when others cut in line or take the last decent parking spot, God calls us to live in love and model grace and peace. Even when you feel “hangry” and those Cinnabon smells are wafting in your direction, we still need to model patience and kindness. So how do we do this?
Instead of the battle-ready clothing, lets take a page from Paul’s instructions on clothing from Colossians 3:12-17 and simply wrap ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And then on top of these clothes, we throw on that warm jacket of love. When we put on these clothes with intention, we tend to display them too. When we remember to wear a scarf of “compassion” or gloves of “gentleness,” then we’ll display those by actually practicing them too. We will be slower to anger, slower to hangry-ness, quicker with love and peace.
And let’s be honest, when we wear these Godly qualities and attributes, we not only LOOK REALLY GOOD IN THEM, but the whole experience meshes better with the season of grace and God’s expectations of you and me in how we are to live.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra