There’s a part in Dr. Seuss’ famous Christmas tale, where the Grinch complains about all the whos down in Who-ville. They are singing and enjoying Christmas and that Grinch hates it. He is sick and tired of all the “NOISE, NOISE, NOISE, NOISE!” He then comes up with a devious plan to sabotage Christmas.
The Grinch is gnarly, green and ridiculous, right? We might not readily identify with his obnoxious character.
Except sometimes, if I’m honest, I am a little like that Grinch.
I can be:
A little gnarly to be around.
A little green with envy.
A little ridiculous with my expectations.
I can quickly unintentionally sabotage the Christmas season.
The kitchen should be clean of clutter like yesterday.
The Christmas photo should look as good as that one our friends sent before December.
The cookies should be homemade just like Grandma’s were and fill each section of her sacred Christmas tree jar- don’t anyone dare touch it.
The gift wrapping process should be held sacred while watching classic holiday movies.
Suddenly, I am no longer enjoying the joyful music of delight and wonder happening all around me, instead I am focused on my struggles in attaining perfection.
Everything sounds like screeching noise. And I end up late at night having some sort of meltdown asking my husband rhetorical questions about what went wrong and why can’t the holidays be more like the movies.
Well, newsflash: I’m not perfect and if you’re human neither are you.
But I forget sometimes.
I think others have it all together. And if I just try harder I can be all that too.
But God inevitably reminds me of my actual natural abilities.
Today, I raced around the house trying to get the kids ready for their last day of school. My husband had left early and the morning scene was chaos.
“Get your jackets on! Brush your teeth! Come back here and we’ll write out notes to your teachers!”
I grabbed the pre-made jars of candy, shaming myself that candy was not quite enough to give to precious women who had faithfully served my children for the past four months. The kids scrambled through the usual morning routine with a little less foot dragging than usual, but the pen wouldn’t work. Neither would my memory. What were the last names of Benji’s preschool teachers? I couldn’t remember or maybe gasp- I never really knew. Further shame- what kind of mother was I? So I asked my five year-old son and messily scribbled his guesses down in an effort to hide my lack of perfection.
We raced through our morning commute, forgetting to stop and reflect on that whole children of God identity thing we talk about most mornings. The candy box my 3 year-old daughter was carrying fell and spilled twice in her special delivery to her teachers. Her teachers thought it was adorable. I just wondered, did they figure out I had filled their box with mostly pre-Halloween leftovers? By the time we reached my son’s preschool, I had decided the candy wasn’t enough. We must get gift cards. But then, as we dropped off the bags of candy, Benji accidentally gave the wrong bag to the wrong teacher. Identical bags but addressed to very different incorrectly scribbled names. And in an effort to hide my embarrassment as one teacher scrunched her eyes trying to read the tag, I hurriedly mumbled, “I don’t know who wrote that.”
As soon as the words left my lips, I privately wondered, why did I say that?
The preschool teacher looked at me and smiled, “What?”
“Oh, I just…” I made up some excuse about the messy label that technically wasn’t a lie and got out of there before my red face gave away my shame. On my way out of the preschool, I ran into another mom who admitted she couldn’t remember the last names either.
I got into my van and thought, What the heck was that, Janell Margaret? (I only use my middle name in speaking to myself when my internal conscience is especially frustrated.) What would possess me that the first instinct of my heart would be to lie to hide my imperfections?
Jesus wouldn’t do that.
And then, to avoid that voice of condemnation, I want to admit to you:
I struggle with wanting to be perfect.
But I’m not.
In fact, not even close.
I need Jesus.
But sometimes I try to do things my own way. Like a toddler, I say, “Me do.”
But in that struggle of “me do.” I sometimes mistake the joy of a moment for an annoying distraction. I turn appreciation for the messy into frustration for what is not. I wallow in my misery over imperfections instead of celebrating the life I’ve been given and the people whom share it. I try to cover for my imperfections instead of embracing what is real.
Oh the NOISE. NOISE. NOISE. NOISE!
And in that place, Christmas easily gets sabotaged. What really matters takes a backseat.
I’m tired of it.
And like the Grinch, who was changed by recognizing the joy before him, here are my tips for not being a Grinch this holiday season. Obviously I’m writing to myself today (but I hope they encourage you as well) :
1) Surrender. Admit you’re not perfect and ask God for help. You’re not. Only God is perfect. And He doesn’t need you to be perfect. He wants you to surrender to Him. Lay your expectations down.
2) Admit your mistakes. If you need to say sorry to someone for being a little Grinchy or ask for help, do it.
3) Take a break. Turn off the phone. Go for a walk. Clear your mind. Drink some tea. Meditate on scripture.
4) Take the time to look for the joy exploding all around you. Make a gratitude list each day and take time to reflect on them. Laugh a little.
5) Ask God for eyes to see how to love the people around you.
I pray this post is a gift of love to someone. It helped me process a few things. Maybe this grinchy-prone heart will grow a few sizes today. LOL.
Now pardon me, while I press publish, take a breather and maybe deliver some festive bags of Halloween candy.
“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1 & 2
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8