It is interesting being a mother of two young girls. Already a lot of my parenting is about managing emotions, theirs and mine. So this Christmas season has been one that has quite a different rhythm to those in the past.
Pre-kids, I would hit the shops, in a take-no-prisoners kind of blitz and attempt to get the shopping done in one big taxing hit. But this year with at least one little tag-along as my constant companion, I have not been able to do this. Well I could, but it wouldn’t be worth the emotional meltdown first from them, and then from me.
As a consequence this year’s Christmas rhythm has been quite different. Looking something like this: a morning of shopping; an afternoon of play; a day at home; then another morning of shopping and so on.
My point is that I no longer have the capacity to push through in a crazy blitz. The amazing thing is (though I have found it restricting and have railed against it a few times) this rhythm my girls have forced me to take is really good.
I have got things done, slower than I expected, but still done. I have had to focus on one thing at a time. Such as just getting the next gift for the next person, and that has meant I have been more intentional in my choices. I have had to be more present with my girls in noticing their overload triggers, and getting home before they spill over.
There is a beautiful proverb that says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)
My girls have forced me to find a new rhythm. This new rhythm is a way of guarding my heart from the stress and strain of the “stuff” that occurs in the Christmas season. It is a way of coming back to the important stuff, slowing down, being intentional and being present.
How do you need to guard your heart right now? Do you need a social media fast? Do you need to stop watching the news for a while? Do you need to spend some time in your garden, or in prayer? What is the rhythm your heart needs to find the peace and joy that is ours in Christmas?
One of my favourite pictures in the Christmas story is that of Mary after the shepherds have come and seen Jesus. This is a picture of busyness, and excitement, and hurrying, and sharing the news. I’d imagine it would resemble a lot of the bustle of our Christmases today.
But the often-unnoticed part of this passage is Mary’s reaction. After the shepherds leave and tell others about the child they have seen, the passage says this: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
May you not only be able to guard your heart this Christmas season, may you also, like Mary, find a time to ponder the treasure.