Dianne Neal Matthews here, taking a break from decorating the tree. Last night I helped with a Christmas party for the women in my church. Since the theme was "Christmas Memories", we invited the ladies to write down and turn in favorite Christmas memories to be read throughout the evening. As always, my mind returned to a long-ago scene that still helps me keep my focus in the right place during this hectic month of December.
I had lugged
box after box down our attic stairs that December afternoon. My two
youngest children, Kevin (8) and Holly (4) immediately began opening the
cartons to look inside. When I had to leave the room for a few minutes, I
instructed them to look, but not to take anything out yet. I planned to
decorate the tree and the house in an orderly, logical manner, one step at a
time. When I returned several minutes later, it looked like a fully loaded
Christmas tree had exploded all over the shag carpet.
“Just look at
this mess!” I scolded.
Mommy—isn’t it wonderful?” Holly exclaimed. “It’s a Christmas mess!”
I looked at
my daughter’s wide eyes and thought about the first Christmas. A pregnant woman making a long journey…giving birth in a stable or cave used to shelter
animals…a newborn baby laid in a feeding trough. Not the ideal circumstances, but God was right there, working out his plan.
During the holidays, we can feel pressured to put together the "perfect" Christmas–to cook a gourmet meal, decorate our house like a professional, and wow our loved ones with the perfect gifts. Then when something doesn't work out, we can miss the sheer joy of celebrating God's precious gift of a Savior.
As writers, we feel pressured to put together a "perfect" career–to learn to write stunning prose, to market our work like a pro, and to wow audiences with our speaking. When the reality doesn't match our expectations, we can lose the joy we once felt at simply being allowed to serve God with our words.
This season, whether you're dealing with a messy family room or a messy life–or the disappointment of not meeting your writing goals for the year, I wish you renewed joy in the knowledge that God is right there in the middle of it all, working our his plan for your life.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!