I wasn’t expecting to hear her words when I made the phone call.
With a long pause, I could tell her illness was causing her speech to be slow. She strained to form the words in her mind and then to utter them to me.
“I’d like to see you,” she said.
My daughter’s heart melted.
“I’d like to see you too, mom. Will you be home tonight so I can stop by?”
“No. But you can come over to the gathering. Everyone will be there.”
There in that moment was when I felt the knot in my stomach.
Everyone, I thought. Everyone that does not want me there. Everyone that is hoping for me to not show up for their Christmas festivities.
“I’ll see what I can do on such short notice mom.” If I can’t make it tonight, I’ll make sure I’ll see you tomorrow.
As I hung up the phone, my heart tugged and ached for my frail, elderly mother.
But my flesh….
My flesh was struggling to go to a place where I wasn’t welcomed.
This was not what I had in mind for my Christmas Eve. I had different expectations. Expectations of peace. Expectations of joy. Expectations of acceptance. Those were my expectations. But Christ had a different plan for my life that evening.
And Christ came so that we may have life.
“Oh, my Daughter, go be the Light for me. Show them the love of my Son. Don’t worry, I’ll be there with you,” was my Father’s soothing words to my soul.
So I went on God’s mission.
And as I walked up the driveway and headed to the front door, havoc was being wreaked in my flesh. With clammy palms and a smile on my face, I greeted my family members and gave them a hug.
“Merry Christmas,” I said.
In the midst of the many stares and glares, I saw my mom.
“Oh, my daughter!”
“Merry Christmas, mom. It’s good to see you.”
We welcomed each other into our arms and gave sweet and tenderly kisses.
We chatted amongst ourselves for awhile and then said our goodbyes.
My husband snapped our picture and I was quite surprised to see the smile on my face. While at the gathering I experienced so much turmoil in my flesh that I was completely shocked to see my spirit; the Spirit of God, shining through me.
Sometimes it’s just plain hard to behave like a Christian.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Romans 12:9
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Romans 12:14
I left that night doing the best I could to show Christ-like love. (Although I’m sure I didn’t do enough.)
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:18
No, this wasn’t what I expected on Christmas Eve.
In fact, I try not to have any expectations during the Christmas season because I’ve learned that when I do, it breeds discontentment in my heart and it leaves me with a critical spirit. Those are two things that rob me of peace and joy. And neither of those traits represent my Savior.
Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Romans 12:16
We then headed to our next Christmas Eve gathering at my husband’s sister’s home.
As I walked through her door, I walked in with no expectations. I knew Christ would be in our midst because He’s in my heart. And I knew my husband’s family would receive us in their home.
I was thankful for their love and hospitality.
I was thankful for the sacrificial love they extended when they gave my boys gifts when we couldn’t extend the same to their children.
And today I learned that even amongst the loud voices, personalities, and differing opinions of family members, there’s acceptance.
Sometimes when we expect perfection from others or ourselves, we’ll surely be disappointed, because as humans, we’ll never measure up to that standard.
Only Christ can meet the expectations of perfection.
So I stood back. I pondered the days and the sacredness of the celebration. The people. The relationships. And I adjusted my perspective.
I looked for Christ in the simple moments.
Like when my children, who are now older, still come running and jumping into my bed on Christmas morning to tell me that Baby Jesus is born.
An attitude of gratitude in the hearts of my boys.
The ability to exercise and be healthier than in prior Christmas seasons.
And the loud and wild family that doesn’t always see eye to eye, but one who can accept and love others. All because Christ was born.
Christ came so that we may have life.
Perhaps you were hoping for something different this Christmas? Maybe in the things your received or in the expectations you had in others?
There’s fullness of joy in Christ and Christ, alone. Put your expectations in the One who is Perfect.
Rest in Him and His plans for your life, sweet friend!