"Christmas marks the moment where God's promise was fulfilled and love took form, tiny fingers and all. "
- The Advent Conspiracy
I'm not sharing this because I am proud of it. I'm just hoping maybe there are some folks out there who relate.
See, I cried over a vacuum cleaner.
To be fair, it was a nice vacuum cleaner. A Dyson. I have four kids and a dog. It's a zoo up in here, and I thought perhaps the messy Mondays would be a bit more tolerable if I had an awesome vacuum to sweeten the deal.
I fought hard for that puppy on Black Friday. (Not literally. Online.) Dealt with slow websites, accidental page clicks, bargain hunting, forgotten passwords, typing in credit card information repeatedly.
Here's the deal though- I don't have a credit card. I use my husband's, and that's all good. Except when it asks me for my phone number and I enter my own number- not his.
That's when I receive emails on the following day telling me the amazing deal I thought I had has been cancelled due to an error with payment processing.
That's when I cry.
That's when the credit card company freezes the card so I can't order another vacuum (mine was now out of stock).
That's when my husband gets text messages from his credit card company asking if he indeed made a purchase at that retailer for that sum of money. He answers yes. The card is reactivated.
I look between him and the vacuum cleaner on screen. Back and forth. I ask, "With all the junk I've had to go through for this thing, do you have the feeling that maybe it's just not meant to be?"
He nods yes. "Give it up."
I do. I give one last longing look at the item I don't need, yet covet. I click the little red "x" and close the computer.
Saturday morning, all over the world, children were dying of cold and starvation. Dear friends were suffering from terminal illnesses. And I used those realities to try to shake me out of the funk I was in. It really was not worth crying over. But I didn't care. I was angry. I was disappointed. It just sucked (pun intended). I threw a temper tantrum over a thing.
I really should know better.
I really should have learned from last year, when I let the insane rush of the season sweep away my joy and toss it into the garbage sack of used wrapping paper.
If you think something like this just happens, you're wrong. There is a very deliberate scheme out there planned by the father of lies himself. He is determined to steal your joy- to disconnect Christmas with the Christ. To entice us to trade the profound and incomparable gift of the Savior for the shiniest new toy.
Satan tells us that spending less at Christmas, sacrificing more, will leave us less satisfied than those earthly items we desire.
And I fall for it.
Thankfully, there are godly people out there exposing the lie. Reminding the gullible me, and those like me, that there is absolutely nothing more fulfilling than the Christ-child.
So, how do I live like this with my family? How do I convince my daughter that "No really, Jesus is way better than the American Girl doll everyone else has," and make it a matter of heart- not budget?
I take her aside- out of the river that rushes her over the edge of the waterfall into materialism. I show her that what Christ has to offer is so surpassingly awesome. We don't have to take anything away from our Christmas festivities, unless it's in the same way that I vacuum the Christmas tree pine needles that fall dead to our living room floor.
I expose the Advent Conspiracy for what it is- an elaborate attempt to buy Jesus out of His own season. Out of every season.
Satan doesn't force us to do it. We do it all by ourselves.
The Advent Conspiracy website has excellent tools to help combat the excess. The gift-giving is good, sweet. I even do Santa Claus. It is idolization of it all- the moment when I take the credit for "giving" my children Christmas, instead of glorifying the real Giver- that is the danger.
(And I just have to make this note: I praise God for a husband who deliberately reminds me of all this. Who takes me out of the race, sits me down, and helps me recalibrate my priorities.)
Remembering the suffering of others, looking to the destitute, comparing our worldly riches to those less fortunate- that will never ever shake us out of our self-centered funk.
Only Christ can do that.
"In Him was life, and that life was the light of men."
We can't overcome the darkness of selfishness by shining more darkness onto it- God alone can overcome it by shining His own light into it. And that's exactly what He came to do!
We can't purchase our happiness anymore than we can adopt ourselves into the family of God. He came to do that too!
"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God."
So this Advent please pray for me. I am so honored to have wonderful people interceding on my behalf. And I'll make you a deal- I'll pray for you too. May we be a mighty army of believers who let the light of the world shine in and through our lives and so experience a more fulfilling Christmas than ever before.