It’s the evening on Christmas. My wife and kids have gone to bed and I am sitting here in reflection on the meaning of it all. There is so much about Christmas in the modern day that seems excessive. The decorations, the lights, the picture perfect family photo, the elaborate meal, the gifts and the toys…its all a bit much. Some of us rebel as Scrooge or the Grinch. As a dentist on Christmas there is never a more stressful time of the year. Insurance and lab deadlines along with bonuses and paid time off and holidays. Not really a profitable month by any stretch. Anyone who does the numbers or owns a small business knows what I am talking about. But it’s not about the money. And why fight it anyway? We can’t simply just ignore Christmas or get rid of it all and travel to the middle of nowhere as an escape. Remember how that worked out for Mr. Krank. So before this season I decided I was going to GO ALL IN and make this a Christmas to remember. Instead of about-facing I was EMBRACING. I said yes to everything and made sure to push for all the things I wanted. We put lights on our house this year which was. a big step up from what we normally do which was just the bushes. We put lights everywhere actually. In my office front room and my back cubby hole, in the kids room, the family room, and even put up new string lights in the backyard over our pool.
I was going ALL IN on the lights. We purchased our best REAL Christmas tree yet and probably watched every Christmas movie available getting into the spirit. One of the strands went out on my tree a couple weeks or so before Christmas and I made a late night trip to WAL-MART just to get new lights. I had to undo everything I had done without breaking glass ornaments and then redo all the tree lights. I was really caught up and full steam ahead until one night I was reading the Book of Mormon in 2nd Nephi Chapter 7 verse 11 and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
“Behold all ye that kindle fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks which ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand—ye shall lie down in sorrow. “
To me this clearly was telling me that I was too worried about the DISPLAY of Christmas-namely the lights (compassing myself about with sparks). Many can display Christmas Spirit but it needs to match my actions and what I am doing. Am I walking in the sparks that I have kindled? Am I actually doing what the Savior would do if he were here? Am I giving myself to others and loving others as He would want me to?
From this day on I changed my attitude. I still went ALL IN on all the extras. We did gingerbread houses, drove 5 hrs for a 1hr train ride on the Polar Express in Williams Arizona, I ate too much junk and I spent way too much money on gifts. But all of this I did with a different spirit in my heart. I started to love a little more and give and the opportunities to bless others lives kept coming. I gave and gave and gave some more and it felt so good! I was more fully present at home and tried to soak in every moment. For this entire year I’ve had the feeling that these are “the good ‘ol days” we will reminisce about for years to come. Many want 2020 to be over with and on to 2021, thinking all will return to normal. Well what if it doesn’t? Not to be doom and gloom but knowing what I know about the current state of the world and the future of society I don’t think circumstances will improve. The vaccines won’t magically fix everything. Biden getting in or 4 more years of Trump won’t fix anything. Our faith is not in the world but in the Savior and in Him alone. I am optimistic about the future but only because good people everywhere are awake in their hearts and living better lives than they ever have before. ZION is awake and the purification of the people to receive the Savior is happening. There is so much love and goodness in the world. For many, we are living in times of abundance. We really are so blessed.
So what is our calling? I believe with all that is going on it is our opportunity to show Christ how much we love Him by making Him our priority. I find it ironic that Mary and Joseph could not find room when they arrived in Bethlehem. The Christ Child had nowhere to lay his head in fulfillment of prophecy. The creator and ruler of this Universe didn’t have a place to be born in this world. What is the lesson here? I believe we need to choose each day to make room for Jesus in our lives. He doesn’t mind not having a place in the world but He is eager to be in our hearts. He is of heaven are we. Do we have a place for Him in our heart? Do we make Him the center of all we do or the afterthought that we hurriedly try to “squeeze-in” amidst everything else we are doing. We MAKE ROOM for Him by intentionally saying no to the things that are of less worth and YES to the inclinations to love and to give and to serve. This is the great challenge. With all the action and everything we have going on it means so much to Him that we would set it all aside to put Him first. True love requires us to sacrifice the things that are good but that are NOT the most important, for what is MOST important.
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Today I turned the NBA on for about 10 minutes and it felt odd. I haven’t watched a game since the COVID shutdowns happened and anyone who knows me knows how much I love basketball. Yet deep in my heart I knew my Spirit would be better served doing something else, something more meaningful. So I wrote an e-mail to a good friend who had a really tough year. I spent time actually playing and interacting with my kids. I turned on peaceful relaxing Christmas jazz. I really tried to tune out the world. Then I started getting inspiration on what to write. I only really write when I feel moved upon and I was really feeling this post. So if it helps someone out there I really am grateful I chose to not give in to the lesser things.
We need Christ in our lives now more than ever. If you are overwhelmed, run-down or just flat out burnt out and stressed, turn to Christ and just start serving your brothers and sisters around you. Start in your family, in your profession, the ways to serve are endless. We don’t all have to feed starving children in Africa to make a difference. There are so many people in need. Let us carry this Spirit of Christ and giving into 2021 and beyond, no matter what happens with the world and society.
MAKE ROOM FOR HIM. HE WILL FILL YOUR HEART WITH LOVE. LOVE IS ALWAYS THE ANSWER.