Today I am so grateful for the idea of God making everything new and beautiful. For a sense of calm and easiness despite the crazy. The end of a year brings about madness-shopping and food and first impressions and the idea of a beautiful Christmas- decor, matching pj’s and all. I love the Instagrams and Facebook posts. The Christmas cards and perfectly iced cookies. But every year I strive so hard for these things and always feel disappointment when my red velvet cake icing isn’t perfectly smooth or my gift wrapping isn’t on par with Martha Stewart. My idea of beauty becomes so high- almost unreachable for any human, especially me.
I started thinking over Thanksgiving break about this intense striving I feel around the holidays. Its as if I forget who I am and what I am capable of and become a monster who just needs to give everyone the perfect gift and have flawless red lipstick. The sad part? I do this all while participating in Advent….the time of the year when I convince myself I am preparing my heart for the “He did” and “He will” parts of the story of Jesus’s birth. He did come into the world to save us from our sins, and He will come again one day.
The idea of striving dates back allllll the way to the first sin. When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Life and immediately realized they were naked. They immediately felt shame and didn’t want God to see them before they covered themselves up. Perfectionism was born right.then.and.there. We all of a sudden (and for our whole lives on earth) lost the ability to truly understand how beauty really looks through the eyes of God. And so now we’re here at the reality of our pinterest-ified and valencia filtered lives-unable to fully grasp what God intended for life to be- completely blind to His form of beauty.
I think the immediate reaction to striving is shame. Shame for not being what we “should be”. Shame for messing up. Shame for producing cake icing that just won’t ever cover every inch of that bright red velvet cake you spent hours making. We forget what truly matters so often, and my fear is that it has become a natural occurrence for me to forget what God did for us and focus on the things that myself as a human cannot do.
Today for instance, I had to go back in for blood work to check my nutrition levels. All day I have been just an emotional roller coaster thinking about this doctors appointment. I forgot all about my progress, my hard work at making sure I’m eating properly, giving my body the fuel it needs and not dieting or exhausting myself. And I instead have focused on all my downfalls for the last three month. Shame.
I was reading the Advent devotion that I follow before my appointment and it was as if God came right out of the page to shake me and remind me who He is. My idea of beauty is blind, wordly and unkind in comparison to what He sees when he looks at us. He found us so beautiful that he sent His son into a broken world to eventually die for our sins.
The story of Christmas is the story of redemption.
Of God fulfilling His promise to never desert or leave us.
If we’re striving, we aren’t living in accordance with His plan.
If we’re focusing on this outward idea of perfection and striving, then we’re focusing on something created because of the first sin.
If we feel shame for our shortcomings then we’re living in death.
So taking a step back from my typical perfect Christmas illusion, and today’s doctor’s appointment fiasco–I’m so grateful for Advent- especially this year because it just feels different. God is moving. His promises are displayed every day- and the most important one was born on Christmas Day.
My red velvet cake won’t be perfect this year but maybe this year will be the year that I’ll accept it. Just maybe.