‘Tis the season…
to survey (and contemplate cleaning up) all the mess generated by holiday festivities,
to think about getting back to healthier habits (thanks to the holiday festivities),
to remind the kids to be grateful for all the gifts they have received,
and in reality…
to give up on all chores and resolutions and instead binge on Netflix while the kids fight over their gifts.
According to Target, tis the season to prepare for Valentine’s Day and Easter. Following the church calendar, we are still in Christmastide, but when I went to the store two days after Christmas in search of a good deal on a tree for next year, the Christmas merchandise had been wiped clean with just a single aisle of reduced price wrapping paper and two shopping carts full of assorted goods. In the place where the trees once stood were racks of candy for Valentine’s Day and Easter.
We are nothing if not forward-looking (at least when it comes to consumerism).
I don’t want to rush to February 14th, though, and overlook the New Year’s holiday as I always appreciate the chance for introspection and reflection. The problem comes, though, when I’m quick to remember all the negative things and forget about all the good.
I’m a recovering perfectionist, and the visions of how things “should” be play on an endless loop in my mind. Advent and Christmas are the “perfect” times for me to confront my obsessive tendencies with how things “ought” to be, but I usually pursue my unrealistic expectations, which more often than not, end in bitterness and disappointment.
And I wonder why my kids can’t learn to be more grateful.
I preached about grace this Sunday as I tend to speak on what I most need to hear. In case I wasn’t getting the message, an unfortunate series of events on Saturday night resulted in my computer’s blue screen of death, losing all of my files (including my sermon), and the complete removal of Microsoft Word.
It was tragic, and yet also a lesson in what is not within my control. I went back to my text and felt anew the hope of John chapter one:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (vv. 1-5)
It is both humbling and a relief that God is the Word. It is not my words that make a difference, but I have the privilege to point to the Word, the Logos. Just as John was a witness to the light, my job is to testify to what I have seen and received. That takes me to my favorite line:
“From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (v. 16)
Grace. I can’t think of anything I need more in my life.
My head is full of the deafening noise of judgments, rules, and guilt about what I could have done better as a person, mom, and minister. And God whispers into the chaos, “Grace”.
And not just simple grace, but an abundance–grace upon grace. Surely I have fully received that again and again, and this gift of God is a promise that I can count on receiving forever.
Grace will be my word for 2016.
I want to share it in my ministry, my speaking, and my writing. I long to show it more to my family: to my aging mother and grandmother, to my devoted husband, and to the two kids that demand it the most (and yet share it freely with me).
But first I must receive grace myself. As I accept my failures and am still able to see myself as God’s beloved, may I be less critical and judgmental with those I love.
May 2016 be the year of grace and graciousness for all of us.
Jenny Call is writer, mom, and university chaplain at Hollins University. She blogs at www.hopecalls.blogspot.com.