15001: Lessons from the Holidays

I determined this year to pay attention during the holidays.  Here are 9 lessons I learned…or re-learned.

Surprises happen.  As a gift was given and received, the gift itself is usually a surprise to the recipient and reactions are sometimes a surprise to the giver.

Generous people always surprise and bless others.  Take opportunities this year to regularly give of yourself or your stuff and bathe yourself in joy as you observe the reactions you get.  It’s the activity during which you act most like God.

Expectations have a bearing on experience.  Our younger grandkids had very high expectations on Christmas.  They don’t really understand, yet, how much of the world subsists without what we consider necessities.

If we construct high expectations about what other people should do for us and they do not meet our expectations, we are disappointed and risk being disillusioned, even angry.

If we lower our expectations, however, we can be satisfied, even happy, with what we receive.

Everyone is the same…but different.  Presents received had similarities in categories.  Clothes, toys, candy…but different.  Color, style, size, function, texture, flavor.  But socks are not toy cars are not electronics are not books are not cookies.

Although it varies from country to country and area to area, all of us are the same…we are people created in God’s image and we have a common desire for shelter, companionship and meaning. But we are all different…build, color of skin, hair and eyes.  Personality, knowledge, skills and strengths.

We’re privileged to be a part of each other’s experience and have the opportunity to be enriched, both individuals and leaders, by those within our circle of influence who have skills and strengths who compliment and strengthen us like a soccer goalie strengthens the whole team.

Life happens.  My #3 grandson was opening a wrapped present.  Unknown to him, #2 grandson was right behind him, looking over his shoulder.  When #3 pulled on a piece of tape, it suddenly gave way and #2 got an elbow in the nose.

It wasn’t hard and it wasn’t done on purpose.  But #2 took personal offense and wanted to make sure everyone knew he had been attacked and wounded.

It takes the grace of God to let the wounds go, intended or not.  It’s the only way to be free and happy.

Life is a process.  Mostly, things don’t happen at the time and in the order we would have ideally chosen.

My #2 son received a gift…one slipper.  One!  He looked kind of silly walking around in one slipper.  I know…you’re already ahead of me.  He later opened another present.  The other slipper.

The first Christmas didn’t happen until it was time.  Most people didn’t understand it then, but Scripture says Jesus was born “in the fullness of time.”

That’s how life is.  We have experiences we don’t understand or appreciate.  We don’t see how it fits with anything.  The “fit” happens later.  Like someone said, “Patience is a virtue.”

Everyone can’t be first.  If you need to get through the buffet line, walk the graduation stage, or check out at the grocery store, there’s usually someone ahead of you.  It’s no problem…you’re ahead of somebody else.  Be generous. Don’t take everything so seriously.  Elbert Hubbard said, “Do not take life too seriously.  You will never get out of it alive.”

Not everything that glitters is gold.  My daughter and son-in-law found a bargain on an expensive CD for a gift.  20% of the original price!  When the case was opened on Christmas morning, however, it was empty.  No CD.  They had both missed the written message on the outside of the case:  “Empty box.  Do not sell.”

For most worthwhile endeavors, it takes hard work, a keen eye and an honest appreciation of other people.  No shortcuts.

It’s fun to be around people you like.  There’s a real difference in the “feel” of a gathering, whether a family, a congregation or a work group, when difficult relationships are present.  If you don’t want to be part of a problem, avoid two things.  Don’t try to control someone else and don’t be selfish or self-serving.

There is always hope.  What a cliché!  Yet possibilities for something different always exist.  It’s a new year…a new month…a new day.  All it takes is a new vision…a new decision…a new commitment.

Watch the movie “Annie”.  Read about Mary, daughter of Glenn Beck.

The greatest source of hope is found in Someone who can create a new “me”, to free me to be what “me” was supposed to be.  He’s waiting for your discovery.  His name is Jesus.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  Let me know what you think. Share this post if you think it worthwhile. And thanks!