By Julia Amting
I love Christmas and Advent. Love love love it. The music and lights and decorations and food and joy. I am currently sitting in my living room by the Christmas tree, cozy as can be. And thinking, as I have been for a while now, about why I have not been producing blog posts for you, my wonderful readers, to read.
It is this feeling that I think is plaguing our world. This feeling of being not enough, of not meeting some sort of standard, some sort of expectation that we put on ourselves or feel that the world puts upon us. The result of this feeling is a severe lack of confidence, obviously, but also laziness. If it can’t be done well, what’s the point of trying anyways? And as a result we become overwhelmed.
And then proceed to buy a lot of adult coloring books, because it is impossible to mess up on those.
A Thief Named Comparison
But the worst thing that this need for perfectionism instills in us is pride. By being constantly frustrated and disappointed with ourselves, with how we look, act, preform, feel, it shows our reliance on our own abilities. On the strength and energy that we somehow muster up within ourselves. And when we fail, we beat ourselves up for it. All is grace, ladies and gentleman. St. Francis de Sales can put this into words much better than I can.
“Don’t get upset with your imperfections.
It is a great mistake because it leads nowhere – to get angry because you are angry, upset and being upset, depressed at being depressed, disappointed because you are disappointed. Don’t fool yourself, simply surrender yourself to the power of God’s love, which is always greater than our weakness.”
How often does that happen? That we are sad because we are sad? That we allow our feelings and our own abilities to drive us rather than a firm reliance on the love of God, and being driven by a love for God. He does not want more from us, but more for us.
A few more quotes I’d like to throw at you. This one was from JPII as he was addressing thousands of youth in 2000.
“Today Christ is asking each of you a question: Do you love me? He is not asking you whether you know how to speak to crowds, whether you can direct an organization or manage an estate. He is asking you to love him. All the rest will ensue.”
Christ asks us not to come to him with only our abilities, our gifts, our talents. He is not seeking to take from us. he asks us to love Him. To allow him to shape us, to enter into us, to allow Him to use our gifts for His glory, and to trust that He will indeed provide for us the strength to do so. And when we do become overwhelmed, to not shut down, but just do something, and trust that He will guide the effort.The existence of this blog is a product of this attempt.
Now, by no means am I undermining self discipline, and the utter importance for us to try to be the best we can be. There is no way for the Lord’s grace to work in us if we are not willing to put forth the effort, to feel and act on repentance. And it is often a very exhausting effort. But we must redirect this effort to where it will be fruitful, and not destructive. Where we are seeking the God’s glory and not our own. Where are we drawing from God’s strength, and not ours.
Try to remember that this Christmas season. Don’t be upset because you aren’t as jolly and joyful as you wish you were this year, that you don’t feel these things that Christmas sometimes puts pressure on us to feel. Be at peace with you and whatever season you are being brought through, whether it matches the season’s joy or not. I wish you all peace this Advent season!