The real meaning

Erick Erickson:

I rarely put my cooking messes on Instagram. I put up a picture the other day of my messy desk, and people were surprised. One thing I do try to do is be open about my family’s life and struggles when I can as best I can. I do it not to put the spotlight on me or as a plea for attention or help, but because in the internet age we all have perfect lives. At least that is the image so many of us convey. The perfect meal perfectly plated is placed on the perfectly set table as we, perfectly dressed, consume it with the perfectly paired drink. There is no illness. Our children are model angels in service of the Lord.

Except it is all a lie. Our houses are wrecks, our cookies are not perfectly round, and the chicken is dry out of the oven. Our clothes are wrinkled. Our lives are all messes to one degree or another. We all have struggles and, if I can live mine a bit publicly at least, you might realize you are not alone or realize even that you have it better than you thought. It is not a ploy for sympathy, but a reminder that you are not alone in sometimes feeling overwhelmed at the holiday season. All of us go through periods of life that are far from postcard picture perfect, even when we may not show it.

My wife has a rare, genetic form of lung cancer. There is no cure. She takes a daily pill that keeps her cancer at bay, but the cancer will one day mutate around the pill. We live in increments of a few months at a time between CT scans. And I worked myself up into being convinced I was ready to leave Fox after five years and said so. Then it turns out they were ready for me to go anyway. Now suddenly I realize half the family income is going away in a month and I’ve got credit card debts, car payments, a mortgage, and I know I’ve got a big tax bill coming even with the tax cuts. I have no idea how we will make ends meet. It sucks, I’m worried, and it’s Christmas.

But I know other people who have it far worse. I still have a radio job and I know people who are unemployed right now. I know a man in my town with kids who just lost his wife to cancer. Life is not perfect and sometimes it can overwhelm us. Sometimes we don’t see our way out of the mess we find ourselves in. And at Christmas, it is all the more stressful. We want the perfect presents, the perfect bows, the perfect tree, and the perfect memory. We want a postcard image or a magazine cover after photoshop. Such things do not really exist though.

What does exist, however, is the perfect savior. He can take your burdens and He can take mine. He wants to. He tells us He wants to. We may not know our next steps, but He has already planned them out for us. He knows where we will go and He tells us that all things work for the good of those called according to His purpose.

Christmas time can be terribly stressful as our Instagram perfect lives go searching for a perfection that does not exist in the real world. Our burdens and stresses can get the better of us. My motto is “why pray when I can worry.” I have a hard time practicing what I preach. But still, I try and so should you. We are not going to escape the worries and burdens of this world. We may wish to be relieved of present ones we constantly relive over and over knowing that it just means we will get new ones. But we do have relief in a babe in a manger who wants a personal relationship with us.

While you are overwhelmed with worries, He is knocking at your door. Will you answer?

Look, this year I know how overwhelmed you can feel. I know the stress. I am living it right now. And I know it is easier to say “trust in the Lord” than to actually trust in Him when you cannot see the way ahead. But you, like I, can pray. We can ask Him who already knows to make our paths plain. We can ask Him to help our unbelief.

The Lord God was willing to wander the desert in a tent with His people because He wanted a personal relationship with them. And He wants one with you. All you need to do is accept His invitation. There is no better time to do that than now, at the Christmas season, where we remember God made flesh, born in a food trough in the lowliest of circumstances. From a tent to a manger to a cross to a tomb and then on to glory, the whole way wanting to share your life.

If you are overwhelmed and stressed out, turn to Jesus and His perfect sacrifice and elevate your imperfect life to an eternity far greater than the best photoshop on Instagram. Merry Christmas.

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