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Giving the Gift of Grace This Holiday Season

The holidays can get stressful super fast. Between social media, invitations, peer pressure and the already existent to-do list the size of an elephant, I personally wouldn’t mind hiding under a rock a few times during the holiday season. 

Then on top of that you want me to cook…wait, what? Do you know what it’s like for me to get food on my own table? 
 
Is there another option somewhere in between disappearing into my dark cave for two months and feeling completely strained as we enter the New Year? 
 
I like to think there is and it starts with giving everyone around me, including myself, some grace.
 
As much as it seems we have to do everything this time of year, we must remind ourselves we do not. There are always the best things and I use the rule quality over quantity. It seems to be especially applicable during the holidays when more and more stuff gets thrown our way. Here are a few tips I am relying on this holiday season. 
 
1) Remember what matters. 
The person is more important than the gift. The memory is more important than the picture. The peace of your home is more important than the perception others have from the outside. For example, if you’re bringing food to someone or some event, it doesn’t have to win an award.  Stressing out over a dish is not worth it. A wise pastor frequently asked us, “Will this matter in 100 years?” Most of the time the answer is no. When thinking long term, you can learn to let a lot of stuff go. There is grace to say NO to this or that, and grace to say YES to something that is more important. 
 
2) Lower your expectations and deal with them rightly.  
I like a healthy schedule, a functional plan and consistency of behavior. When I don’t get it from my kids, my marriage or anyone around me — I tend to get a little anxious. When my chest starts to tighten, I examine my own heart. What am I expecting from that person that I haven’t communicated? Where are my expectations unrealistic? Is there a right way to communicate how I feel versus expecting so and so, or whatever situation to unfold a certain way? Am I putting unnecessary pressure on myself? Take time to process these questions. Wrestling through expectations is a process of refinement, but the grace for others {and especially yourself} on the other side is incredibly freeing. 
 
3) See my own selfishness before I find it in others. 
It is super easy for me to tell you who I think is selfish. And don’t give me too much time to chat or I will list X,Y,Z examples of how I can prove it to you. When my mind starts to go there, especially around the holidays when people are asking for more, I have to look at myself. What do I not want to give up? Where do I not want to sacrifice? What do I really love the most? That talent I have been given, I can use it for others. That gift I have been given, it wasn’t mine in the first place. The respect someone gives me can easily be lost by an inappropriate and selfish response to something. By seeing my own selfishness first, I have a lot more grace for whomever I am interacting with. 
 
The holiday pace can feel like “GO, GO, GOa fire is burning!”, but that is so far from the truth. We have time to examine ourselves before we respond. We have time to think on an invitation before we respond. We have time to sit and think about what matters before we interact with a family member, coworker or our own kid. Take the time to do these things. If we are not careful, the most wonderful time of the year easily becomes “The Most Stressful Time of The Year” and we see Jan 1 feeling frazzled and strained. 
 
Give the gift of grace to yourself this year. Give it your family member. Give it to your boss. Give it to your toddler. It’s a gift that keeps on giving and give it freely. 
 
 
 
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