Does anyone else battle against striving for perfection during this time of year?

Family dynamics can be tricky at any time of year, but especially during the Christmas season. Expectations sometimes suffocate us. The pressure to appear like the Norman Rockwell family can color our decisions. We strive to find the perfect gift. To attend every gathering. To make every tradition happen without a hitch. 

But this leaves us empty.

The First Holy Family

I keep thinking about that first Christmas and that first family.

Mary

Mary, a teenager who was considered virtuous . . . until she showed up “with child.” I can imagine what her parents and siblings said when she told them the Holy Spirit came over her and . . . boom, she was pregnant. News of this scandal probably raced through her small town like a fire fueled by wind. 

She may have been ostracized for her yes to her heavenly Father. And yet, she stood by her decision to accept this calling of the Lord. She sacrificed her good reputation to fulfill her Father’s plans for salvation.

Joseph

Joseph, a righteous, well-regarded man had every right to “quietly divorce” Mary once he heard about the pregnancy. And he was ready to do just that. His clean reputation would be sullied if he took this “loose woman” as his wife. 

And yet, when the angel spoke to him in a dream, he chose obedience and trust over controlling his reputation. Though we don’t have recordings that convey how his community regarded him after his agreement with God, we can imagine he lost the respect of his family and his neighbors. 

When God calls us to something outside the ordinary, we will face obstacles, disdain, and pain. The more we fall into striving for perfection, the harder it will be to live in His calling.

An image of the nativity of Joseph and Mary with Jesus . . . the first holy family did not get caught up in striving for perfection. We can follow their example and choose authenticity

Perspective on Striving for Perfection

This holy family placed obedience and trusting God above striving for perfection in others’ eyes. Both Joseph and Mary were respected in their circles. To choose to honor God cost them that regard in man’s eyes. 

Jesus, the perfect God-born-in-flesh, was birthed in an animal’s stable. His wasn’t that perfect, beautiful pristine birth. It was messy, earthy, humble. But, God . . . 

God brought shepherds, the “least of these” to declare His miracle. He gifted this family with the beautiful lowing of animals in the silence of the night. One newborn’s first cries added harmony to the music of the barn.

This family walked with authenticity. They didn’t strive to live up to their neighbors’ and family’s expectations. The only One whose expectations mattered was their heavenly Father. 

Why stop striving for perfection?

None of us will ever walk in Mary’s shoes as the mother of the Savior of the world. But, we have the privilege of sharing about Jesus with our communities. Will we do this? Even if it means sacrificing things we hold dear? Are we willing to relinquish that striving for perfection to live authentically before God and people? 

It’s genuine, imperfect living, preparing for Christmas that truly shines God’s light into the lives and hearts of others.

Most of us tend to make Christmas far more extravagant and stressful than it needs to be. Maybe we should take a page from Joseph and Mary’s book and keep our focus on our Father rather than on all the things of Christmas our society tells us is important. 

Why We Should Stop Striving for Perfection This Christmas—When we focus on Who we celebrate, rather than on how we celebrate, the true meaning of Christmas deepens in our souls. tellhisstory #perfection #trustinggod Click To Tweet

When we focus on Who we celebrate rather than on how we celebrate, the true meaning of Christmas deepens in our souls. Expectations will lose their grip on our hearts and minds. And we will be able to celebrate Christmas more authentically. When we leave perfection out of the mix, authenticity has a chance to shine. 

Conclusion

Celebrating Christmas as a family takes on many hues. We may struggle to live up to others’ expectations. We’ll probably need to set some boundaries. Getting together will be wonderful and perhaps stressful. But where’s our focus?

When we choose to look to the Father for what He would have us do this Christmas season, we may just find that peace reigns in our hearts and in our days and spills over into the lives of those around us. 

What about you? What prepares your heart to celebrate Christmas authentically? What helps you stop striving for perfection during the Christmas season?

Two quick notes:

We’re linking up at Lisa Jordan’s place next week!

And two . . .

Some of you have been asking if I would share some of my fiction . . . well, here is a short story I’ve written for my subscribers. You are among the first I’m offering this to. (squee!). If you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, you will receive this short story as a thank-you gift. I only send out newsletters once a month unless I have exciting book news.

This is a quick blurb of “When You Know”: LindaRae Brennan’s first husband’s infidelity makes her hesitant to trust another man. But Peter Miller seems honest, kind, sincere – just the man who could offer her a second chance at happily ever after. Could LindaRae be wrong when she insists actions always speak louder than words?

Come share your story at the Tell His Story linkup. Connect and be encouraged by like-minded friends! #tellhisstory #linkup Click To Tweet

Most weeks, I link up with Grace and Truth, Anita Ojeda, Instaencouragements, and sometimes Let’s Have Coffee. Come join and read more encouraging posts!

Each week we gather here as storytellers, word weavers, and encouragers to make His name known. Our story is God’s story and this small corner of the blogging world, where we come together each Tuesday, needs you. This is a place where poetry, snapshots, prayers, and stories find a safe spot to nod in agreement that what we have to say matters. I am glad you are here and would love to have you join the #TellHisStory community. Add your own encouraging post through the link below. Spread some love by visiting your neighbor and leaving your own encouragement. Click over here to read more about the #TellHisStory community and find a button to add to your site.

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