I’m over at The Mom Initiative today sharing this post! Hop on over and say hello!
It happens every year—the dreaded Christmas family photo and letter. This is when my perfectionist tendencies rage and my family becomes afraid as does their guardian angels and the mailman. And if you check out this family photo, we look like the Shaw Mafia. No—really, there are comments flying all over Facebook, text messages and phone calls. This is me and my cousins, aunts and uncles. While most family photos are full of vibrant colors, clean shaven men in church clothes –not so with my family.
Anybody with me? We scour the department stores for the perfect matching sweaters, hair bows, and black shiny shoes all the while our thoughts drift to the successes mentioned in last year’s letters pushing us to find the ultimate perfect picture setting. Anything to hide the flaws of our family right?
We then beg, blackmail, and bribe smiles from our family, coaxing (or screaming) through one more shot. Long after the photo is touched up and printed, we fervently pound the backspace key as the mailman delivers yet one more perfect family letter with sentences like:
“ Six pounds of sprinkles and who knows just how much frosting but I managed to make all the cookies for my son’s Christmas program while Lucy scored perfect on her ACT’s. She is well on her way to an IVY league school.” tweet
The more I find myself wanting to hide behind perfect smiles, the more I realize I’m a lot like Adam and Eve. You see after that first fateful bite, sin laced with shame entered the picture. For the first time, they knew what it was like to have the thoughts of
“I am not good enough, I won’t be accepted and good Lord, I don’t want to show off my imperfections running around naked!” tweet
As they hastily sewed leaves to cover their shame, I often wonder how many of us are doing just that with our Christmas letters?
But isn’t Christmas supposed to be the opposite? Aren’t we supposed to be celebrating our shortcomings because Jesus filled the gap for us? Yes, he died for our salvation but he also died to set us free from shame.
No where in the Bible does it say, “Though shalt not be accepted without a good Christmas letter or photo.”
Nor have I read anymore, “Though shalt perform well as mother to be set free.”
No. No. NO.
What if you and I could focus on the meaning of this time of year instead of the shame we carry over the mistakes and mishaps our family has encountered. As moms, it’s our jobs to make our family look good. As moms, we’re the ones who sway others with our stories and words. And we’ve lost the ability to be real, to share our hurts and joy. Somehow we’ve lost our identity and we face the shame our families aren’t perfect.
My Christmas letters won’t be filled with joy this year because just this week, my friend is burying her mother, another is grieving the loss of a friend and my family is mourning the loss of Alyssa’s twin sons.
As I flew home from Arizona yesterday, one phrase leaped off the pages, breaking chains. Albeit my co-passengers were a little scared as I jumped up, shouting hallelujah in my black attire—tattoos all exposed. The first words God said to his son Jesus weren’t about his mission, his future or performance. Instead, his first words shouting from heaven were
Little mama, our letters, facebook statuses and pictures don’t need to be perfect. Yet, we all sense our shortcomings and feel like our perfect smiles and successes will make up for it.
This is the time of year to celebrate humility… after all Jesus’ first bed was a smelly trough, full of barn animals and hay. No tinsel, no smiles, just cold, hard earth surrounding his teen mom while angels in the heaven rejoiced.
As the letters fill your mailbox, I want you to smile and embrace the imperfections of who you are and love who God says you are,
“This is my daughter…….with her I am well pleased.”