Beloit, WI

Beloit, WI
photo by Rod Gottfredsen

Friday, November 23, 2018

Getting Some Perspective at Christmas . . . .

Dear Friends,

During my seminary years, Dawn served as a manager for an inventory company and worked a lot of hours.  While she worked, I took classes and cared for our eldest daughter.  In December of my final year at the seminary, Dawn asked me to take our daughter to get her picture taken with Santa Claus.  While this was not a huge request, it fell during the time that I was completing final papers and preparing for final exams.  Consequently, I was not thrilled by the huge line to see Santa at the mall.  I decided to run other errands and then stop back to see if the line would decrease while we were away.  While going to other stores, I noticed that a pet store was offering an opportunity to get your pet's picture taken with Santa.  Unbelievably there was no line (I checked).  This seemed too good to be true.  Of course, there was one problem - we didn't own a pet.  My Hebrew exam promised to be rigorous and so desperate measures . . . .  We entered the store and I asked the cashier if I could borrow a dog so that my daughter and the dog could be photographed with Santa.  She laughed and gave us a little terrier.  Click, flash, and we were out of there.  Would you like to guess my wife's reaction to our annual photo with Santa that year?  To my surprise, she was very upset.  It seemed that I had made a mockery of a treasured moment in a child's life.

The story of that debacle is retold in our family at least once per year and everyone laughs - including Dawn.  What changed her outrage to amusement?  Perspective.  It has been 17 years since I made that insensitive blunder and our eldest kid turned out fine.  Time has a way of changing our perspective.  The stress in the moment can sometimes be so overwhelming that we lose sight of the things that matter and everything becomes a life and death situation.

If the surveys and statistics about this time of year are to be believed, most of us will experience some big-time stress next month.  Although much of this pressure will be self-imposed, that doesn't make the stress seem any less overwhelming.  While I possess no wise secrets for dealing with stress, I do encourage you to meet December with some healthy perspective - knowing that all will not be lost if you are unable to attend every event to which you are invited, find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, or have all your holiday treats turn out like the picture.  December is also the season of Advent - in which the Holy Spirit working through God's Word prepares our hearts and minds to receive the Lord Jesus at Christmas.  May your observance of this season be a refuge to you in a battering world.  Be reminded of Jesus' invitation to you . . . “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light”  (Matthew 11:28-30).

At the end of the day - no matter what happens - it is unlikely that you will mess up Christmas as badly as I did 17 years ago.  May this be a comfort to you in a stressful time.

In Christ Jesus,

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