Reality Check

Recently I have been reminded about the fragility of our lives here on Earth and how important it is not to “sweat the small stuff.” Some people have recently lost loved ones, some are seriously ill, some have experienced other losses. The awareness of these things recently gave me a reality check. 

This morning I was preparing a meal for a family at our church who lost their Dad, husband, friend. After some food splashed on my clothes, I asked Robbie to grab an apron from a kitchen drawer for me. He did and handed me an old, worn out apron that was my Nanny’s. As I put it on, I realized I truly felt joy and peace making food for someone else wearing my Nanny’s apron. I’m sure she’d worn it a million times doing the same thing. 

Just going to be real here…every Thanksgiving/Christmas season, I get stressed out. I want to make everyone is happy, make sure everything gets done. Every year, I try not to get overwhelmed, but the events, the shopping, the decorating, the gifts, all the extra added to an already stressful life get to me. I try to hold it all in, but sooner or later the stress bubbles over in a verbal rant or tears, or both. After which I apologize and try to keep my emotions in check.

Recently though, I was reminded more than once about how I needed to stop letting “small things” get to me. In light of the hardships others are facing, I realize the things I let stress me out at times are trivial.  Do those gatherings, presents, decorations etc. really matter long term? No, they don’t. What are the things that we usually remember about the holidays? Our interactions and connections with others, the memories made together, loving others, serving them. I am reminded of how very short our time on Earth is and I’m so very thankful for our eternity in Heaven. What will really matter there is our heart and our love for Jesus, our connection to Him and if we lived our lives to the best of our ability doing His will. While we are here, we should try to focus on the eternal not temporary, material things. Let perfection go and just love others. 

I have some friends in Texas and their church had a “Not About Me November.” That phrase really stuck with me. Serving others and focusing on loving people is so much more valuable eternally and honestly way more fun than checking off a list of items you “have to get done” for the holidays.  I often remind my kids of the acronym J O Y which stands for Jesus, Others, You. While it is a simplistic reminder of how to keep our priorities straight, it really does produce joy within us if we live by it. When we get all stressed out and worked up over something, is it because we are focused on OUR checklist? For me, I can say yes. It’s amazing to me when I encourage, serve, and love others without worrying about checking things off, how my own stress melts away. 

Lord help me to love and serve you first. Then help me show your love to others through friendship and service. I know joy, peace, love and your presence will follow. Help me always to have an eternal perspective. If something is not eternally important, help me to let it go. Help me to let go of “the holiday checklist” and give from the heart. Thank you for the reminder.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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