Do you see the picture above? I took this picture two days ago. Notice that there is only one candle that’s been lit and burned. For those of you who celebrate Advent with the tradition of lighting candles to signify certain meanings for each week that precedes Christmas you’ll notice I’m a bit behind…
So why, then, do I feel the need to publicly share my epic failure to invoke a new tradition into our family Christmas time?
Because I’m a Type A personality.
I know this comes as a news flash for some of you yet with an eye roll from others so let me enlighten you further. Here’s a great description from Wikipedia regarding Type A personalities:
“The theory describes “Type A” individuals as ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status-conscious, sensitive, impatient, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, anxious, proactive, and concerned with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics” who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.”
My response to this description? Yes. I concur.
Now this might sound a little bit prideful but I can honestly say that I’ve always enjoyed being a Type A personality. I get a sense of satisfaction over feeling I have it altogether. I’m orderly. Timely. And for the most part I can take whatever you give me and manage to come out way better than even I would’ve expected on the other side.
You guys, pride is a funny thing. And I don’t mean funny ha-ha. I knew that if I didn’t choose to humble myself at some point, God was going to do it for me.
Well, I never got around to it so you can probably guess what happened.
I made a plan for myself this year that I would incorporate new traditions into our family. I would structure Christmas a little differently this year. I would manage our time more wisely to make certain we get the most out of our holiday season.
The only thing wrong here is that it sounds like I’m putting together a project plan to implement a new process at the office. Perfectly acceptable for work – not so for Advent.
Yes, I was prepared to take our Christmas season and stuff it with impersonal, time-boxed deadlines, rushed traditions, forced pictures for
scrapbooks photo books – to try and live up to all the other Type A personalities out there doing the exact same thing.
Yet, like so many other surprises I’ve unwrapped this year, I’m fairly certain God took note of my I-hope-you-don’t-notice-what-I’m-doing-down-here attitude, and responded with a resounding “Oh, no you don’t!”
I believe it was at precisely that moment the inevitable happened: Children got sick. Laundry fell behind. Errands were forgotten. Christmas presents got lost in some seriously great hiding places. And I began to weigh and measure each and every item on my list to determine what was more important.
Was it about lighting a candle with every devotion or talking to my kids about their day? Cramming in some deep, spiritual discussion right after dinner or holding them close while helping them read a book?
Don’t get me wrong, all of those things I needed to set aside are good things. Great things, even. But God’s had a different lesson for me this Christmas…
As I reflect on what has happened in the first half of this month, I am taking note of my surroundings.
I see prayers being answered.
I feel hearts continuing to change.
I witness people that I love coming to Christ.
I discern the voice of the Holy Spirit showing me who I can bless this year and how.
I experience moments of sitting with my children and talking about third world poverty.
I notice our household slowing down to engage the youngest as she expands her vocabulary.
I receive more snuggles under piles of comfy blankets.
I learn how to embrace the moments of sitting by the edge of the well and listening to Jesus tell me everything I already knew about myself and just didn’t want to admit. That it’s okay to slow down and be late. It’s okay to let the routine fall to the wayside. It’s okay to live in the moment instead of living for the next one.
Jesus has never been as hard on me as I have on myself. And He certainly hasn’t given me some crazy list of expectations for Advent. He just wants me to know Who He is. He wants me to show my kids Who He is. Stories and traditions are fun and important – but it’s about so much more than that. So. Much. More…
I’m joining the following writers for these link-ups today:
Jennifer Dukes Lee for #TellHisStory
Holley Gerth and Coffee For Your Heart
Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday
I seriously need to take that test again because I thought I was type B, but as I read the description I kept thinking, “Yep, that’s me.” I love this line: “Well, I never got around to it so you can probably guess what happened.” Yes, I have so been there. It’s those moments of stillness that you mention at the end where we realize what’s truly important and see God work. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for visiting, Abby! 🙂
From one Type A to another, I totally get this. 🙂 And God has been breaking down my pride for awhile now. It’s such a process. 🙂 I’m glad you opened your heart and shared this post. Thanks for linking up for #ThreeWordWednesday.
Thanks, Kristin! It’s definitely a process and some days I want to pull my hair out. But at least I know He’s working in me and I’m “getting it.” Be it ever so slowly…I’m getting it. 😉
There are three words that stood out for me Jennifer: So. Much. More.
I have a dear friend from church who uses them quite often and she uses them when she talks about Him and His Word. There is always So. Much. More. He is revealing to us and teaching us. I love how He is never done. Many blessings to you, friend. This was a beautiful and honest post. xoxo
Thank you so much, Beth, for your encouraging words and constant inspiration through your own blog. So glad we’ve come to know each other in our own little online space!
Oh this is so me, too. I beat myself up and focus on the wrong verbs. In this distracting and demanding season, it’s so easy for me to chase unrealistic expectations. Thank you for your honesty and for this timely reflection.
“focus on the wrong verbs” – that is a great way to put it, Karen. Thank you for visiting today. I’m going to remember that quote…
Jennifer, as a neighbor on a couple of links, I am thankful for God knew I needed this message. We far too easily miss the precious, the beautiful, the endearing, the sadness, or silent cries for help when we are about our own busyness and nor about God’s business. I fail in this repeatedly but as I spend time with the Lord, He reminds me and teaches me and reteaches me and the time is NEVER wasted. Step by step…
Caring through Christ, ~ linda
I love how you say he teaches you and then reteaches you. I feel like I have been realizing that a lot over the last year. Just when I think I get it, He teaches me again and I get it even more. I’ve come to think of it more as “continuous nurturing.” Yes?
Thank you so much for visiting! 🙂
Love this post, thanks for sharing your heart…from another type A 😉
Thanks for visiting, Rachel! 🙂
Stopping by from Three Word Wednesday. I am so glad I did. God took this very type A personality a few years ago a stopped me in my tracks with chronic illness. Even still I struggle with this issue. I need to remember that God cares more abouty heart, and the heart of my children than all the things I can do. Thank you for the encouragement today. I am right now quite sick. Because I tried to do too much today. I suppose God knew he needed a pretty strong sledge hammer to teach me this lesson. I still haven’t learned. I am thankful for a God who loves me so much that he really wants me to learn this lesson.
Thanks for sharing! I too had thought this Christmas would look quite a bit different, since I did the Bible study on Advent. And while I did learn a lot, and ponder on some things throughout the season, & remember back on things I’d learned through the study, I can’t really say it “looked” any different. But I still felt the Christmas spirit, enjoyed lots of Christmas songs, loved having my kids home & enjoyed sappy Hallmark movies with them. No matter what we do, it’s still Jesus’ birthday!!
Thank you for visiting, Leisa!