At my house, a Christmas elf makes sure the house gets a good cleaning for the holidays, decorations come out, the menu is planned and the food bought, the tree is set up and presents are thoughtfully purchased and wrapped. Kinda like that old story about the shoemaker and his shoes, ya know?
Sometimes I think my family believes there’s an elf, because they show up Christmas morning all gung-ho to celebrate and I’m not certain they have a clue how everything got there. But the truth is, it’s me. Or as I like to refer to myself this time of year, Mrs. Claus.
I love advent and the Christmas season. I like the lights, I enjoy wrapping presents, and appreciate the food, games, songs and worship. But I have to admit getting there is sometimes stressful. There’s a lot to do, and when I get tired and whiny I feel like the only one making it happen is me—well, me and a couple of little people and three dogs who are harder to corral than a herd of hungry reindeer.
So I get stressed. Worried. Anxious. Why can’t I find the Advent Train? I know it was with the Christmas stuff when I put it away last year. Why can I never seem to find the right connections to make the Christmas tree lights work? Every year I think I’ll remember for the next, and then I never do. How am I going to get the presents wrapped when I’m on a double deadline? WHY am I on a double deadline? And how am I ever going to be able to make sure every person in my family has the SAME NUMBER OF GIFTS? Trust me. This is a thing.
And sometimes, I feel like it’s a burden and not a blessing.
I was recently accused of being a Martha. You know what? I am. I’m the one running around like a chicken with my head cut off making sure it all gets done and squawking all the while.
Up until now, I always thought Martha got the short end of the stick. I mean, I get what Jesus was saying—He was definitely the most important person at the house and spending time with Him was by far the most important thing. But (and this is where I always get tripped up) STUFF HAD TO GET DONE. Someone had to cook and serve all those people. Is it any wonder that Martha was a little stressed?
I went back to that passage and re-read it, looking for clues on how to deal with my own anxiety throughout this holiday season. Martha was initially the one who joyfully welcomed Jesus to the house, which I imagine is similar to putting up the decorations and welcoming Christmas to my house. But then, everything goes downhill. Martha complains to Jesus that she’s burdened with too much serving. She needs Mary (her family) to help. What’s the deal, here, anyway?
Ahem. Sounds a little too familiar.
Jesus answers her plea to have Mary help her by pointing out Martha’s problem. It wasn’t that there weren’t things to do—there were. But Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.” (emphasis mine)
It’s not the doing, or the needs to be done, but my response to it. I can be anxious and worried, or I can keep my heart, mind and spirit focused on the One who came as a babe one blessed evening in Bethlehem and will someday return crowned as a glorious King. To sit at His feet and listen to His voice.
I don’t know about you, but I’m hanging up my Martha apron this season. Instead, I’m bowing at the manger and worshiping the Christ Child. There’s room for you, too. See you there! Merry Christmas!
Deb Kastner’s latest release from Harlequin Love Inspired is Yuletide Cowboys.