By Theresa Boedeker
Do you ever have a dread of Christmas? A secret fear or anxiety about the coming season and all the things that surround it?
I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas.
Maybe because my husband and I grew up in a church where Christmas was not celebrated or observed. By the time I was in my 30’s, the learning curve seemed huge.
Why I Dread Christmas
As December grows closer, I experience several emotions. Dread. Shame. Confusion.
With my proclivity to perform, meet expectations of others, keep up appearances, and not make mistakes – not knowing the ins and outs of celebrating Christmas make me feel as if Christmas is a test. I want to score an A, but don’t know how.
I wonder if I am doing it right. I worry about being an imposter.
I fear that perhaps my casual approach to Christmas will leave my children unschooled on how to celebrate Christmas.
I feel like a kid watching the in-group who is drinking hot chocolate and laughing.
What Do You Dread about Christmas?
I feel dread about Christmas, but maybe you feel this way about parenting. Adulting. Your career. Goals. Health problems. Disappointments. Death. Marriage. Whatever hard thing you are stumbling through, even your daily life.
Knowing this is a part of being a human doesn’t always make it easier.
We live in a competitive, judgmental, performance-based landscape. We value doing, competence, and achieving.
Deep learning, slow growth, making mistakes, and stumbling around is frowned upon.
Shame, dread, and fear become companions. They are fueled by the lies we believe:
- You are not enough.
- Who do you think you are?
- You can do more.
- Keep up or you’ll be passed by.
- Your work determines your worth.
To Whom Are You Listening?
My love-hate relationship with Christmas is deeply rooted in my past. Our dread comes from narratives we tell ourselves and ones we have heard from others. Stories that are tinged with falseness and ringed with lies.
It is our job to recognize the accusing and condemning voices. The past narratives that surface and drive our present state, emotions, and fears.
It becomes our job to ferret out the truth. Discerning the lies and replacing them with God’s truth.
We can remind ourselves of what is lovely, true, pure, grace-filled and sparkly with God’s love.
And so, I tell myself not to buy into the world’s lie about Christmas being all about gifts, glitter, and Christmas envy. Bigger is not better.
The Truth about Christmas
I take a few deep breaths. Calm myself and remember the truth: my dread about Christmas and how to celebrate it pales in comparison to WHAT and WHO it represents.
It’s not about my performance. The opinions of others does not determine my worth, identity or religious standing.
Christmas is not about me, but about Him.
It is not about doing it right, wrong, or not at all. It is about acknowledging Jesus’s birth into this world and how his life changed us, others, and the world.
It’s not about the cookies I bake or don’t bake, the gifts I buy or how they are wrapped. It’s about me making time to focus on Jesus and what he means to me. It’s about having room for him in my life and heart.
It’s about seeing how I need to be more like Him. It’s getting my eyes off myself, my performance, concerns, and worries, and firmly placing my eyes on Him.
When I focus on the truth of Him, my fears, stress, anxiety, and trauma over Christmas and not fitting in fade into the background. His love and acceptance fill the space in and around me.
I may have been judging myself and noticing my lack, but He fills my lack and delights in my companionship. Then the dread of Christmas finally dissipates.
Wife Step: What lie is clouding your thinking about Christmas and needs to be replaced by God’s truth?
Theresa Boedeker has been married to her husband, her complete opposite, for over 30 years. They live in the Midwest and have two children, 15 years apart, and a few grandkids. Theresa daily hunts for humor and tries to bring forth laughter from others. She is passionate about helping women smash lies with God’s truth. Overcome shame. Learn to laugh at life and themselves. Notice God’s love and grace. And not be afraid of making mistakes. She unwraps life and faith at TheresaBoedeker.com. When she is not writing, she enjoys doing creative things like cooking, making jewelry, and taking photos of flowers (they never run from the picture).