Culture, Life

My Christmas Will Be Perfect

It’s in commercials, in festive dinner conversations, in the gifts we buy. It’s on social media, on TV, on drives with friends. I swear it is in the air. It moves at light speed through our subconscious, making a straightaway for the coveted chamber of our hearts — never achieved, yet always alluring. What is the name for this infamous holiday joy zapper? It’s what I like to call “Christmas Perfection.”

And by “Christmas Perfection,” I mean the whole mindset: “I need to have my crap 100% together and know the answers to all 43 of Aunt Judy’s intense questions pertaining to the next 31 years of my life right this second!” or the “I need to give amazing gifts and post a cool picture on Instagram so everyone knows I’m really happy & having an awesome break!”

You know these thoughts. So many expectations. So many pressures to be as shiny and glittery as the wrapping paper we use for our gifts! I say it ’cause I’ve fallen prey to it.

The expectations used to choke the living daylights out of me. I used to think, “How can I get through this Christmas season all cheery and singing ‘Jingle Bells’ when there are days I feel straight up like the Grinch on stilts. I’ve seen days where sadness and hurt gripped my heart so tightly, and I wondered why my life hadn’t turned out as “perfect” as I’d planned. I thought to myself, “Pretty sure Aunt Judy isn’t going to like my answers this year…”

Where does this pressure even come from? Well, the world, for one. The world is really good at trying to tell us who we are and what defines us: our careers, relationship status, the amount of money in our piggy banks. Yet, ultimately, I’ve learned that the pressure is exhausting and that none of it is what Christmas is even about.

At Christmas, we celebrate God who became man for us. It’s the birthday of Jesus: He who is called “Emmanuel,” or “God with us.” He who came in a manger — a small, messy and probably smelly manger.

By the world’s standards, Jesus’ birth was by no means “Christmas Perfection.” Jesus was born into humble and poor conditions with a donkey by his side: no glitz, no bells, no Facebook pictures. Just human, just like us. He came this way so we would know how He desires us to come to Him — not trying to seem perfect, but with our masks off, vulnerable, in our poverty and our neediness.

God desires to come into the manger of our hearts. He doesn’t need our hearts to appear perfect; rather, He yearns for us to allow Him in as we are. So this Christmas, the real challenge is the one where rigorous honesty meets unbelievable courage. Will I let the baby Jesus into my chaos, with its joys alongside its imperfections? Will I allow Him into my interactions with others? Will I trust Him with my longings and my future? And will I have confidence that, by doing so, those around me can also shed their false “Christmas Perfections” and live in the freedom and peace God desires for all of us?