It’s the same every year. Things seem to be going fine, but as Christmas gets closer, suddenly—anxiety strikes!
“What if we didn’t get enough for your sister?”
“Were we fair in what we got for all the kids?”
“I’m pretty sure your brother hates me.”
“Is dinner going to be really awkward this year?”
We spend enormous amounts of time trying to anticipate all the intricacies of interpersonal relationships, unspoken expectations, and dozens of other factors. By the end of it, we all want to curl up in a ball and hope Jesus comes back before everyone shows up.
But is this what Christmas is supposed to be like? It is going to be better if we work ourselves into a tizzy about what people think about something they won’t even remember three months from now (unless they’re the grudge-holding types)? Or better if we match dollar-for-dollar what other people buy for our kids? Or would it be more enjoyable if we can figure out some sort of mind control that makes our crazy uncle a little less weird to be around?
We have this idea of the perfect Christmas in our heads, one where no one is fighting, everyone’s happy with their gifts, and they always compliment you on your sweet potato pie. The problem is there is no such thing as the “perfect” Christmas. The perfect Christmas is an idol, and Jesus died to save you from it.
When we spend our time fretting over the details of Christmas Day, we’re giving the source of our anxiety power over us. We need the details to be just right so we’ll have the approval of the family member who we’re pretty sure doesn’t like us, or maybe just to say “this worked out exactly as I planned.”
Our Christmas celebration becomes less about our Lord and Savior and more about something temporary. Those of us who struggle with holiday anxiety need to remember: if you are in Christ, you have all the approval you will ever need. As Paul wrote, “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1).
All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ… (Romans 8:14-17a)
And once more, just so we’re clear: “You are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:7).
Let those words sink in for a moment. If you are in Christ—if you’ve received through faith God’s gracious offer of salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus—you are a “son” of God. You’re His heir, one who will never be snatched from His hand (John 10:29).
Do you see the good news in that? Isn’t it amazing?
And yet we set our sights far too low. We become consumed with the niggling details of Christmas. We fret over gifts. We stress over family visits. But these have no power over us. They are not our source of true joy and comfort. They hold no promise of eternity. As much as I love my family, they’re not the source of my happiness. My understanding of my value doesn’t come from what they think of the gifts I bought this year. That road leads to nowhere.
But Christ offers us so much more than even our highest expectations of what a “perfect” Christmas can be. He gives us Himself, forever. And nothing—not even a Griswold family level disaster—can snatch that away from us.
For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 8:38-39)
Nothing will separate us from the love of God—not even Christmas. Let that be your comfort this year as you make your final preparations.