This morning on the first day of 2017 I spent some time looking back on this holiday season. There seemed to be this overwhelming pressure to buy the perfect and most wonderful gifts for our loves. Everyone seemed to be frantic. Phones dinging with the next great deal. The lines in the stores were extra long and smile-less. Traffic was overwhelming. The highways and back roads were packed with frustrated citizens switching from one lane to the next in hopes of getting to the next big sale. Children had their eyes glued to the television and their excitement grew with every "I want that" commercial. And here we are today. Yes I found myself sitting Indian style on the floor in front of my overly decorated Christmas tree thinking about all the stuff in front of me.
Stuff. Each item in front of me was lovingly and thoughtfully purchased. And as tears rolled down my cheeks I prayed. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that God has blessed us with the ability to afford stuff. But more overwhelmed with what was deep within my heart. I never finished my shopping for "stuff" this Christmas. I got to a certain point that I had no joy in my heart when purchasing stuff. And I didn't want to wander aimlessly around the mall going store to store in search of the perfect gift.
The days leading up to Christmas Eve Eve (the day my family celebrates Christmas together) I found myself worried and upset about many things. I was so busy with the preparations to make our Christmas celebration perfect and lovely that I forgot what Christmas is all about. Love. Yes, God so love the world that He gave us, the world, His precious son. And His son came in the form of a sweet baby that one day grew up to show the world how to love deeply. Jesus never wrapped things up as a gesture of love. No, He broke bread and spent time. He embraced everyone and the only wrapping done was the wrapping of His love and grace around us.
We say that Jesus is the reason for the season. But do we really mean what we say? I am not saying that tangible gifts are meaningless. No. I think that gifts are precious and thoughtful. And often bring joy. But I also feel that there is this overwhelming sense of obligation to buy stuff during the holiday season. And to be honest I have a few people on my list that I felt obligated to buy for this year.
As I aimlessly wandered around the mall one night. I had wonderful and precious alone time with my Savior. I felt His presence walking beside me and whispering in my ear, "Kathleen, there is only ONE thing that is needed". And me of course responded with, "Yes, Lord I know. I am just trying to find that one perfect thing". It took about an hour for me to realize that the ONE thing that was needed wasn't going to be found in a store or under the tree. Like a 2 x 4 smacking me in the back of the head I felt joy for a moment. I left the mall and headed to do something much more valuable than any present purchased. I went to spend time with my daughter and her husband. And then came home to an empty house and sat quietly at my Lord's feet.
Time is the most precious gift we can give to each other. Our lives are busy and often quite hectic. And sometimes we are so busy being busy that we become overwhelmed and tired. Too tired. I am guilty of doing and doing too much that I forget to sit at the Lord's feet. I pray that as we begin this new year together that we stop for a moment and take time for the things that are most important. Firstly, our relationship with God. Take time to sit at His feet and feast on His word. Seek Him with all of your heart, mind and soul. Remember that you are wrapped in His love and grace. And next our family. Yes, my hope for 2017 is to give the precious gift of time. After all, tomorrow isn't promised. So, love on those in front of you today. And if tomorrow comes Praise God! And let's make plans to have game nights, Sunday dinners, family gatherings, birthday parties, weddings and just time together.
Let's make 2017 a year of presence and not so much presents.