Christmas Expectations versus Grace

Pinterest is all the rage. I’m not on it, but I love the concept. It a place to capture images, ideas, plans, ideals for every occasion. I think that Pinterest is really just an outward, shareable copy of something we all as women have internally. We have our own mental Pinterest board full of images and ideals of how each aspect of our lives should be.

Christmas Expectations versus Grace

Christmas Expectations

From big to small these ideas are all carefully catalogued and never far from our mind’s eye.

* We know what our homes, jobs, and family should look like.
* We know what our family dinners and activities should be.
* We have images for our relationships – how they should function – out children, our marriages, our friends and extended family members.
* We have a category for our future, set up sometime in the past – college life, marriage, career, children, our children’s marriages, grandchildren, our retirement lifestyle – are all displayed somewhere on this mental board.
These images become or are made from our expectations.

Christmas provides the opportunity for an entire Pinterest board of its own. We mentally see in living color how our decorations should look, how many batches of cookies should be baked, what the family photo should reveal about our loving clan. The ideals go much further than outward appearance. We know the ideals of emotion, attitude, and interpersonal relationships which coincide with the season. We should be cheery, joyful, friendly, patient, gracious, enjoying and making memories, delighting in family time and the joy of giving.

Christmas Expectations: Reality does not always match our pins, though.

* Our decorations can be more work and make the house harder to clean.
* The tree cutting outing becomes an ordeal because it is cold, the kids are tired and hungry, and your husband is grumpy about trying to get the tree tied on the car.
* The cookie baking day with Mom makes a mess and doesn’t match the memory-making ideal. (Or maybe Mom does not like to bake cookies.)
* Our family photo does not come out because someone was in a bad mood!
* Our Christmas does not look like our own mental image, never mind Currier & Ives.
Literature Activity Guide for The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

Deeper than these outward pictures, our attitude and emotions sometimes don’t match our ideal image either.

We feel impatient, annoyed, rushed, behind, maybe even a little down.

If I’m honest, sometimes I DO care whether or not I’m given a gift and what that gift is.

The same inconsistencies between our images and reality invade every aspect of our lives and the other people in our lives. We often see our plans and expectations unrealized in our own life and those around us.

As Christians, our pins include a whole wall of Christian life and the Church. And, I dare say, for those of us who have grown up in the church, the collection of ideals we have for our lives and other Christians and the church is vast. We can become disappointed and discouraged by these unrealized expectations. We can give up on others or become angry or disillusioned with them. If our reality matches our ideal image, we think we are fine with God; if it does not we flounder.

Worst of all, we limit God by focusing on our self-made Pinterest board. We may have created these images based on great ideals, even godly ones, but we have still created it ourselves. Perhaps this Pinterest board is an idol. Even our prayers and dependence on God can become tied to this idol. We ask God to make our reality or our loved one’s reality fit these ideals. We are asking God to color the pictures we have made. God is bigger than that. He wants to paint a masterpiece, not color in our coloring book. His plans are far bigger and better and more eternal than any ideas we have in mind. (Isaiah 55: 8)

Jonah 2:8 gives us profound wisdom – “Those to cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that would be theirs.”

Christmas Expectations: We do not want to miss the enormity of God’s grace.

He is creator. He is redeemer. He is making all things new. He can make a better painting than our coloring book allows – even using some really awful things.

The first Christmas gives us a wonderful illustration – Mary’s image of her life probably included quiet, respectable family life in her small village, married to a hardworking carpenter, raising children, and caring for her home. With the angel’s announcement, her future completely diverged from that ideal, but she chose to accept God’s grace and plan instead and joy, glory, and closeness with God resulted. (Luke 1: 39)

Let’s make this Christmas our practice session. Join me in choosing to lay down our Pinterest board images, each moment, with each activity, with each emotion, and choose God’s grace instead. It will be infinitely more satisfying and eternal.


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Christmas Expectations

Allison Thorp

One Reply to “Christmas Expectations versus Grace”

  1. Thank you! My holiday is feeling more like an example of a “Pinterest fail” than the ideal, and I needed this reminder of GRACE!

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