It was a few years ago that Philippians 4:11 hit me like a cold, wintry blast. The verse that reads: “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” did not describe my attitude at all.
My husband, myself and our two boys were living with my in-laws while restoring our old farmhouse and we were quickly approaching the seven month mark since we had been alone – just the four of us.
Much to my delight, my in-laws started talking about going somewhere over the holidays (they must have needed a break from us as well). I was thrilled! This meant that I would once again be the queen of the castle (rather than the visitor in the guest room) and at least for Christmas, we would have the house to ourselves.
As the weeks moved by, I encouraged my in-laws to have a great time and not to worry – we’d be fine. All the while, I was planning and counting down the days until we could deck the hall, and pretend that it was ours!
Our Christmas decorations were in storage but we managed to find my mother-in-law’s dusty old Christmas tree in the attic. We set it up in the living room, threw some ornaments on it, stood back to take a look and said “it will have to do.”
That’s when I felt it. My first pang of discontent.
I felt it again as I planned our meals and realized we would be eating on my mother-in-law’s dishes instead of my festive, snowman-covered ones. And again and again with each compromise I was forced to accept.
Here we were, all alone, just as I had wished and I was miserable!
I tried to press on and not cry out, like little “Susie” who didn’t get the doll she wanted for Christmas, but it wasn’t easy. I was having a pity party and I was dragging my family with me.
By the time Christmas morning came to town, we all looked like we had been hit by eight tiny reindeer (I have pictures to prove it)!
The smiles began to fade as the gifts dwindled and there we sat – all alone in someone else’s house with our gifts under someone else’s tree.
We had our breakfast, cleaned up the last piece of wrapping paper and asked ourselves “what do we do now?” We had nobody to visit (we were already at Grandma’s house), no stories to share, nobody to show our gifts to, and no invitations standing. We were pathetic! So we did the only thing we could think of – we went to the farmhouse and started working.
That’s right! On Christmas day we were hanging light fixtures.
All day, in forty degree weather, with no electricity, we worked and when we were done, we walked back to Grandma’s and went to bed. Thank goodness Christmas day was over!
The next day we packed our bags and headed out to my parent’s house. We couldn’t hit the road fast enough! Never had that six hour drive looked so inviting!
Until now I’ve tried not to think about that Christmas too often; I even journaled in my scrapbook, “the worst Christmas ever.”
But, I think I’m starting to recognize the purpose in that experience. I should have been content in what God provided for me that year and not blinded by my ideas of perfection. That would have made all the difference.
This Christmas I’m looking forward to whatever God has under the tree. I know it will be for my good and the good of my family. And I want to share whatever it is with everyone – even my in-laws.
I hope they’re not going anywhere!
Until Next Time…..