Avoiding the Holiday Blues Tip #5

Rejoice

“Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”                                                                            Luke 2:10

  No sweeter words have been spoken to men by a celestial being.  The angels appeared to the shepherds while they worked.  These were ordinary men.  Why would an angel go to these guys?  Because, they were just like you and me.  Working stiffs, who need to know that God loves them.  That is the good news.  God is for us.  God is on our side.  God is not mad at us.  God cares about us.  God wants a relationship with us.

Here is the problem for us men: Jesus is a gift from God.  He is a present that must be received.  We can not earn this.  We must simply believe.  This is difficult for us guys….  because we want to be worthy of it.  There is something in us that drives us to create, grasp, obtain and merit all that we have.  We are workers.  We were made for that.  We want to deserve the house we live in, the car we drive, the watch we wear, the shoes we get, the jewelry we enjoy, and all the goodness that our hard work brings.

This little boy in a manger; a miraculous expression of the Almighty’s true affection for us, can not be obtained.  He must be received.  No strings.  No expectations.  That is so hard for us to wrap our arms around, that we often miss it.  The good news….He loves you, and this Son of His is proof.  It doesn’t matter what you have done, what you are going to do, or what you think you might do.  He still wants a relationship with you.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

Emanuel- God is with us.

Avoiding the Holiday Blues Tip #4

Protect and Serve

  Family.  Got to love them; or not.  Really?  This is the time of year when we have to deal with so many members of our family that we don’t normally relate to.  Now, we are thrown together for and extended period of time and that can really drive us all batty.  You know what I mean. Everyone has an “uncle” that’s a little “off”, a niece that’s not so nice, a brother that’s “finally clean”, an in-law that is more outlaw and of course you….the only normal one in the family..lol.

Here’s the problem in a lot of these circumstances; the wife sees it coming.  She knows the women are going to be stuck in the kitchen and she is going to have to deal with every family “dirty secret” there is. This is embarrassing to her and she hates to be around it.  She starts to fear the attitudes that are being exhibited and she can’t stand being there.   When she walks out of the room, she’s not sure if she will be the butt of the next joke or snide remark.  The only way for you to help her is: deliberately engage.  Your mere presence can set a better tone regarding conversation.  If you hear something that seems a little unkind, you can interject and redirect the chatter.  This is a skill that you can practice all season long.  This is how you protect your wife from any unwanted backhanded cracks that leave a mark/wound/scar every year.  It is up to you to make a difference.  Get away from the television and get in the kitchen, she needs you!

Wait, there’s more!  Your wife has told you she doesn’t trust “so and so” around your kids.  Thus far, you have never taken her seriously.  You thinks she’s overreacting and exaggerating her concerns.  Wake up!  It’s time to keep an eye on what’s going on.  How bad will you feel later if you find out that one of your kids was introduced to porn, pot, beer or sex at a family get together?  Sadly, I have heard that very story from several of my clients.  It is really hard to recover from those kinds of mishaps, especially when you get warned.  You don’t have to be a cop to act like one:

  • Stay alert
  • Know where your kids are at and who they are with.
  • Watch your wife, make sure she is safe.
  • You are the Spiritual Leader.

The hope is: you will choose to honor your wife and family.  These are precious moments that you can cherish or regret for a lifetime.  Spend some time preparing to be one with your wife, instead of catering to those that may or may not share your DNA.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent people you save me. 2 Samuel 22:2b-3

Avoiding the Holiday Blues Tip #3

Check Yo self before You Wreck Yo self

 Christmas is an emotional conundrum for me.  I get tied in knots the closer we get to December 25th.  I’m not sure where these feelings began or where they are from, I just know they are deep.  Every year it seems I wait until the last week or so to start shopping.  I completely violate tip #2 (Financial planning). It comes from a lack of preparation that I create my own dilemma.  It is also derived from an intense need to please others and to be liked.  I have discovered that I am really insecure and Christmas brings it out in the worst way for me.  It has happened time and time again.

The worst example I can think of is Christmas 2004.  This was the first year of the new iPod.  They were so cool.  But, man they were expensive.  There’s no way I could afford that for the kids.  At least, that’s what I was thinking.  The closer we got to the big day, the weaker I got. There were lots of gift options. But none seemed as fantastic as the new apple contraption.  Without consulting Carol, I drove to the store and got the ipods.  I didn’t tell her at all.  I wanted everyone to be surprised on Christmas.  Or, I didn’t want her to pour cold water on my ipod idea and if I waited till Christmas there was nothing she could do about it.  Oops, there’s a confession for you.  I knew she would want me to take them back, or, at least she would challenge my financial considerations.  I wasn’t willing to deal with any of that.

I couldn’t wait for Christmas morning and the kids to open their gifts.  I was so excited, I couldn’t sit still.  I vaguely remember getting them up so I could spring my surprise on them.  They were teenagers a no longer got up at the crack of dawn.  This would be the best Christmas ever, I could be voted “father of the year” with presents like these.  They were so surprised.  I’ll never forget the look on their faces, it was priceless. I had hit the jackpot, I’m the man, yea baby!  The look on Carol’s face was not as joyful.  I could tell she was not pleased.  She did not let it show too much and the kids never knew that dad had really “done it this time”.   In the months that followed this purchase was a major topic of discussion for the two of us.  The discoveries were deep as we evaluated the ramifications of my choices.

At that point in our lives we had come to an arrangement regarding major purchases.  We would be in agreement.  No surprises, no concession, no bullying, no manipulation, just oneness in spirit.  Well, obviously I had violated this big time.  Carol was hurt and I couldn’t blame her.  As Ricky Ricardo would say “I’ve got some splannin’ to do”.  I had to search deep in my heart.  Was this about the kids?  Or, was this about me? How could I justify $800 in presents with our finances the way they were.  The fact is, I put it on a credit card and I’m not sure when it got paid off.  I wonder how much interest I paid?  Ouch, just thinking about this makes my stomach hurt.

Here’s the truth:  I love to give gifts.  I love to grab checks.  I love to be generous.  I don’t care if it costs me interest.  The problem is:  I do it for me.  It makes me feel good.  it make me feel successful.  It swells my pride.  Oops there it is.  It’s pride.  It’s embarrassing to admit that my pride is a prominent part of my decision making.  It’s pride that buys what I want to, when I want to, and how I want to.  It’s pride that doesn’t “check in with the warden” to see if we are on the same financial page.

The point of all this is:  we need to discover our motivations before we embark on Christmas spending (debt).  We say it’s not about the gifts.  But isn’t it?  I’m still discovering all the pride and junk stored up in my heart/mind.  So, this Christmas let’s check our thoughts, intentions, motivations, fears, guilt, remorse, and surrender them to Christ.  Maybe our gifts will have more meaning and will be lest costly, both relationally and financially.

 

“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” Proverbs 20:5 (NIV)