Thanksgiving has come and gone, and everyone is charging full steam ahead into the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. As soon as Halloween ended and November began, I had Christmas on the brain. For some reason, in the midst of the joy about the coming advent, I have had a big check in my spirit…a sense of discomfort about the season ahead. Bear with me as I share my heart (and some photos of our home from last year). 

Christmas brings out all kinds of wonderful, joyous, magical feelings, but, if I’m honest, it also brings out the worst in me. You wouldn’t know it by my elf-like enthusiasm, but my heart wrestles with a lot of less than lovely tendencies. 

Come December, I start to see my biggest flaws amplified in the heightened emotion of the Holiday season. I’m greedy. It pains me to admit it, but it’s true. I love the holiday ads. I love black Friday shopping. I love winter clothes and shoes and making Christmas lists and knowing I have new things coming my way. I want. I want. I want. 

Also, I am the Queen of Comparison…especially when it comes to home decor. Decking our halls should be about creating a warm, welcoming environment in which to enjoy our families and friends and be reminded of the joy of the coming of our SAVIOR who is Christ the Lord. It is so tempting in a world with standards set by Pinterest and Instagram to doubt ourselves and turn Christmas into a chance to keep up with the Joneses. I walk through Home Goods and Target, and I’m so tempted to fill my cart with things I don’t need and don’t have budget for. 

I almost broke down in tears today as I scrolled through Instagram thinking “I can never measure up to the standards set here.” I work a full time job and we have traveled so much in November that I simply haven’t had time to devote to Christmas crafting and original ideas in time for the early-Christmas reveal that every blogger/instagrammer does. Every other year of my adult life, I have reveled in the joy of decorating for Christmas for the sake of it. But this year…as I aspire to start a business of home decorating, I am putting an extra level of pressure on myself, and yet I know I don’t have the means or the time to measure up to my own impossibly high standards. 

At the same time, I want to declare with boldness that my heart is for Christ this Christmas.  That is what it’s all about, right? And as a Christian, I know I’m supposed to say that. 

But let’s be real. Most days, for me, it’s more about celebrating warm, fuzzy feelings and holiday traditions than it is actually lifting up the King of Kings. There is nothing wrong with listening to Christmas records and drinking hot cocoa and watching Hallmark films til my head spins from cheesiness. In fact, I am delighted that our culture has so many joyful and wonderful activities with which to celebrate the savior’s birth. 

My heart is saddened, however, by the fact that I so often make it to a reverent Christmas Eve service and realize that my heart of worship has been overshadowed all Christmas season by the fluff and sparkle of mainstream Christmas. My balance is off. My focus is diverted. 

We give out of obligation and overflow instead of out of sacrifice. We grumble about family disputes and try to choose the schedule that is least imposing on our own agendas. 

I do not want to do that this year. I do not want to find myself on December 26 with a host of new presents and pretty pictures of my home, but with a heart that is turned only toward myself. 

Finding a solution is easier than it sounds. I don’t know how to balance a love for making my home beautiful with a peace that comes with knowing every corner doesn’t need to be blog-worthy. I don’t know how to have a silent night alone with Jesus and not think about to-do lists and Christmas wishes. I don’t know how to give out of extravagant generosity instead of obligation. I don’t know how to be certain that my focus is on the true reason for the season. 

But I’m praying hard about it. I’m praying for HIS JOY to be greater than the temporary joy that comes from manufactured Holiday cheer. I’m praying that when I see everyone else’s glorious Holiday homes…that I will smile with inspiration rather than feel discouraged that I can’t measure up. 

I want to write more letters to lonely people I know. I want to give more time away. I want to seek HIS will for my days in the advent season ahead instead of my own Christmas bucket list. 

All that to say…I’ll be sharing photos of our holiday home soon. It will be lovely and it will be fun. But, know in my heart, that I am a work in progress. Working toward loving Jesus and others more than myself. More than my Christmas trees. More than my own self-glorification. More than my follower count. I’m not always there yet, but maybe this Christmas, we can all just be works-in-progress together.