Letting Go During This Advent Season

The seasons of Advent and Christmas are undoubtedly my favorite time of the year. But to be fair, it is also the time that brings on an almost unmanageable sense of anxiety: finding the most perfect gifts for family and friends; creating Christmas cards with a fun family photo and accompanying text that shows how remarkable, talented and, yes, blessed our family is; decorations that are the ideal combination of Martha Stewart and Joanna Gaines; homemade baked goods; attendance at school plays and concerts; parties hosted by co-workers, friends, neighbors and family,....

The list of "must do's" goes on and on. We seem to be searching for the perfect Christmas--the one that evokes the good memories from our childhood, incorporates a blend of old and new traditions and allows our family to celebrate the season in a picture-perfect way.

Perhaps women struggle with this more than men--particularly if we are mothers or grandmothers. The intensity of the holidays existed even before the advent of social media, but now we have a means of documenting how perfect our lives are. With this opportunity comes an entirely new set of issues and stresses.

But what if we, as women specifically, agreed that this is not what Christmas is about? What if we decided that it is a time for us as individuals and families to be quiet, slow down and wait expectantly for Christ in all that we do? What if choose to take a few things off of our plates rather than adding one more thing?

I confess that I have spent far too many Advent seasons trying to recreate certain feelings and memories...maybe not even my own but instead trying to compete with my friends or neighbors, celebrities, or the Hallmark channel. Often it is only a certain smell or tradition or movie or song that sends me back into my memory. I'm not saying that continuing traditions isn't important--because they are. But sometimes they camouflage what is truly important--what is more than sentiment and emotion and dreams.They can actually hide Christ--the true meaning of Christmas.

In this season, time seems to rush past us blurring and blending. But, at times, when I allow myself to be quiet, still, unhurried...the moments slow. They become sacred. A window opens into what we know to be most important. Yet we seem to be afraid of recognizing it--we use the busy-ness of the season to prevent ourselves from falling to our knees and entering into the slow, hushed, intentional invitation of Jesus. Preparing our hearts for the birth of Christ and his return does not involve cookies or parties or perfect photos. It is an opportunity to draw near to him, quiet our hearts and minds and to engage with him in small, holy moments.

I am not asking you to do one more thing this Advent season. I am encouraging you to do less--less of the stuff that wears us down and draws us away from the Lord. Take time to relish and savor these sacred moments with our Savior.

Will you join me this Advent season in being clear about our purpose? Focusing on the things that bring us closer to Jesus, that help our children and spouses and friends know him?

What will you let go of this Advent to make room for Christ the King?

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