by April Osteen Simons
I don’t know about you, but we LOVE Christmas at our house. The smell of hot wassail, the tree, decorations and Christmas movies— we enjoy it all. There’s something about the season that brings delightful anticipation and unending joy.
You know as well as I, in the midst of all of the joy there can be insurmountable stress. You have deadlines to meet, presents to buy and parties to attend. On top of it all, there are the normal everyday duties to fulfill. Time seems to vanish and finances seem to run out quickly. Before we know it, Christmas has come and gone, and all we feel is completely worn out and financially drained.
Years ago, I had a reality check…
While I was focusing on the news, my youngest daughter, Arriella, surprised me with two pictures she had just drawn. The first one was of her and I holding hands, wearing cute boots, (I trained her well!) with a rainbow in the background. On the top of the page, it said in big, bright letters, “I love you.” The second picture was a house with all of our family in front of it. Everyone, including the dogs, was smiling. These were two pictures that were simple, yet so profound.
The timing of her picture was priceless. At the moment, the news was blaring doom and gloom and the volume was so loud I’m sure my neighbors could hear it. Two of my kids were vying for my attention to see the new stunts they learned in gymnastics. My son was harassing one of my daughters to the point she didn’t think it was funny anymore. My dogs were playing chase, barking and running tirelessly around the living room. To sum it up; it was loud, chaotic and definitely stressful.
It was in the midst of all the chaos the letter was put on my lap. Arriella didn’t realize it, but her work of art spoke volumes to me. It didn’t matter to her what was going on in the room, much less the world. All she wanted me to know was one simple thing—she loved me.
When I saw those pictures, nothing else seemed to matter. I realized in the big scheme of things, it’s not about the gifts you buy at Christmas, but it’s about the love you show and the relationships you build year-round.
What greater example of love do we have than Jesus Himself? He gave of His life—died and rose again so we might live and be called His sons and daughters. God values relationships and family. He wants us to live a lifestyle of love. He wants us to value those He has placed in our family.
You might say, “You, obviously don’t know my family!” You’re right—but I do know God wants us to make relationships right. For some that might mean forgiving. For some, it might simply mean picking up the phone and restoring communication. Don’t wait another year—why not be the one who initiates restoration.
My dad used to say, “Find a need and meet it, find a hurt and heal it.” This is a great time of year to look for those who are less fortunate and help them out. Get your kids involved in giving and extending love to those who are all alone. People need love. You never know what people are going through. And don’t take it lightly who God has placed in your path. Maybe God put you in someone’s path to be a light in their dark world. Maybe you will be the only glimpse of Christ they see. Be a light where ever you go. Remember, the greater the giving, the greater the living.
Maybe you’re reading this and you can’t identify with family because of situations no one knows about but you. Heartache and brokenness have left you feeling alone, with little hope for having any form of a healthy family, much less any form of love. Let me encourage you–Don’t let what you’ve gone through keep you from what God has in store for you. You may have given up on yourself, but God hasn’t given up on you.
Take a moment in the busyness of this season and breathe! Stop worrying about everything that you DON’T have and take a look at what you DO have. God has blessed you with family and friends. Build up your relationships instead of maxing out your credit cards. Take a moment and give those kids of yours a hug. Take time for those you love. Remind yourself of what’s really important in this life.
And today when you turn on the news and it seems things aren’t getting better in the world, and when you think your house can’t possibly get any louder, and when you are sure you can’t take one more person making demands on your life…sit back and remember what’s really important. It’s not always about the big things in life. Often it’s about the little things—the words of affirmation, the pat on the back, helping someone in need.
Someone needs to know you love them. Someone needs to see that you care.
Remember this, the moment you start acting like life is a blessing is the moment it starts to become one!