Its 2017 yall. I cannot believe it and am so excited for the year ahead. I’ve toiled, mused, pondered, contemplated and dawdled on posting this and before I can be all “YAY! NEW YEAR!” I wanted to attempt to put a messy bow on 2016.
This Christmas season has been so “imperfectly perfect” in so many ways and in its perfection – or lack of, I have gleaned so much.
Imperfectly perfect. What a HUGE blessing and often times, so hard to see.
I have so much to learn and will likely meditate on and pray about for a long, long time to come, but I am in love with the imperfect, and in it, its perfection.
As we kick off 2017, I have dreams of beautiful messes, disasters, confusion and imperfect moments being conquered over and over – by grace alone.
How did I even come to all of this, you ask?? I landed on the whole thing only after perusing all of the perfectly decorated Christmas trees on Pinterest and deciding that my Christmas tree was just. so. ugly. Comparison is absolutely the thief of joy, right?
My desire for perfection in the form of decorating a house got me thinking.
“I clearly have no clue how to decorate a tree,” I told myself as I stared blankly at ours. When people complimented it, I smiled and inside thought, “Rigggghhttt….uh, thanks?”
It was bland, bottom heavy with ornaments and just plain blah. I wanted it to be bright and full and fun and festive. The hand made kid ornaments were taking over, and the “real ornaments” got played with and broken. The then broken heirlooms found their way to their forever home in the dump.
We had a train going round and round the bottom of the tree. It was cute and all, but little hands kept grabbing at it and pulling it off the track. It made me NUTS.
“Just let it go!,” I fussed! The kids were overjoyed, I was annoyed, my Hubs was chill as always and I just wanted a pretty tree.
My house was trashed, I forgot presents for half of my kids teachers and took half melted fudge to others and had stopped working out. We were running like chickens with our heads cut off to recitals and basketball and were just caught up in the hustle bustle of Christmas.
Nothing was bad, the house was even (semi-pretty, if I am honest), everyone was healthy and happy, we were just busy. Basketball games, holiday parties, recitals, dinners with friends, and more. And my home wasn’t what I wanted.
Want…The desire of wanting. Another ugly word, yes?? Not always bad, but in this case, it was a heart issue and nothing but yuck.
One afternoon, I added garland and a giant bow at the top of the tree, some sparkly berry looking things that were red.
I wanted silver, but prided myself that it at least gave my pitiful tree a boost. I relaxed a bit with the kids and their playing with the train, and they went to town sending their stuffed animals round and round.
I prided myself that it looked better than it had and tried to take angled pictures (with the mantle – cause “it was pretty” and I liked that) and rearranged decor to make me feel halfway better about the blah-ness of our tree.
See? Pretty, right!? File this picture under “social media only tells half of the story” as it may have looked pretty on the outside, but on the inside, it was not.
Really, it was fine and the kids loved it but the comparison bug kept nagging at me.
I started pinning away all of the perfect trees found on my board here.
I contemplated making ALL new stockings, a new tree skirt and more – to achieve a certain look. #truth
The funny part is that my house was so messy, even if I had achieved “the style” I wanted, chances are good I wouldn’t have opened the door for a guest. The laundry piles that had over taken the couches and the balls, cars and legos that could have quite possibly attacked holiday friends as they entered.
So WHY was I even fixated on this?? For what? For who? Why?
As I wrestled with that, I found myself annoyed at my want for something “pretty” and even more frustrated at myself in my lack of contentment. It was all just so petty. And so not me.
And speaking of contentment, even if I DID know how to decorate a fancy tree, I didn’t have the money (and I am too cheap) to buy what I wanted, so that annoyed me too…
Then, our tree dried out and for weeks I cursed under my breath as the needles poked my feet and got stuck in the carpet.
So now, my tree is blah, I can’t buy what I want, which I want the pretty things that I probably wouldn’t spend the money on anyway – which is trivial and a moot point, and now my tree is dead and still ugly and its still not even Christmas.
I am moping around in some discontented state as I run my kids all over creation in the name of holiday joy. I was pretending or hoping to be something that is the opposite of who I am, what I believe, what I stand for and ultimately, what this season is even all about.
I thought about this for a few days straight as I fussed at my kids to smile – for perfect pics, ya know.
Then the Christmas present wrapping began. I am a perfectionist when it comes to wrapping. Clean edges, sharp folds, no unnecessary tape and wrapping paper that all matches under the tree makes me squeal.
Handmade bows make me giddy too.
Oh. And my love language is GIFT GIVING (no surprise there!) and so I search high and low and wait with pure excitement for birthdays and holidays when I can watch the recipient open the perfect present.
As you can imagine, when the kids started wrapping things like diapers, monster trucks, balls and other household objects and placing them under the tree as “gifts,” I could feel my blood pressure rising and my left eye starting to twitch.
Mismatched paper, crinkled all over creation and an entire thing of tape used on the smallest item in the house. Lord, help me. I bought cheap bows and they were gone in .002 seconds.
I am pretty sure I found them plastered to the dog, the walls, everywhere but the gifts.
Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!! And with that, I realized I needed to reevaluate it all.
YIKES. Not sure who that person was, but it wasn’t me.
I am always a glass half full person. I am not a doubter and my faith is big. Debbie Downers annoy me and in my brain and heart, there is always a way. I am in this world, but not of it. I will find the silver lining. I will swim the ocean, I will give the shirt off of my back and I will pray and keep the faith til break-through occurs.
The messes doesn’t bother me, crazy kids are my jam, chaos is my middle name and I thrive on my ability to keep a schedule and accomplish a million things in one day.
WHO AM I and WHERE DID LAUREN GO!? Santa, bring her back!!!
Usually the totally chill mom who lets her kids dress themselves, allows them to pour their own orange juice even if they spill, includes them in decision making, has the patience to do sit-in time outs with them and doesn’t help when they make projects – even if they turn out disastrous (all under the auspicious of “kids are learning and having fun”) is now annoyed over stuff that usually would bring fun, joy and humor??
Now “that girl” is I am having a nervous breakdown over wrapping paper and a Christmas tree? I am rolling my eyes at the ridiculousness of myself.
As Brother would say, “Mom. Oh my grathious.”
I did attempt to fix the seemingly desperate tree and I did encourage the kids NOT to wrap diapers, and I did make them smile for pictures as I evaluated it all. As I prayed constantly, the phrase “imperfectly perfect” just kind of landed on me.
Finally, my heart swelled with joy. It wasn’t the pinterest perfect tree. It wasn’t the coordinated bows. It was the mess. It was the controlled chaos. It was the over the top present shopping (and then some returning) and it was just being us. It was the imperfect.
I knew it was a word from the Lord and suddenly, the old Lauren was back. I was filled with a peace that could come from nowhere else but Him alone. Suddenly the dollar store decor (thanks, Dad) that we couldn’t get to turn off was beautiful.
Suddenly, the fact that I was too big for my “ugly sweater” and the fact that we had to stop at Kroger (on the way to the party) to get a larger one didn’t bother me.
The diapers and monster trucks were the most beautifully wrapped presents under the tree and the imperfectly perfect matched bows gave a new flair to pattern mixing.
The drooping needles on my dead tree drooped into the perfect tree shape and “the more the merrier” became the motto for the kids homemade, random ornaments.
Somewhere in there, I let comparison become the thief of joy and the reason for the season got caught up in the pretty-ness of it all.
Thankfully, somewhere else in there, the Lord reminded me that the most beautiful tree ever seen was an undecorated one.
He gently reminded me that it was one that was carried on the back of our Lord and one that was decorated not by lights and matching ornaments; but decorated by sweat, blood and a love so perfect for me that it was willing to come to earth with one mission, to ultimately give His life for mine.
He reminded me that beautiful things were born in barns and that large pregnant women had to ride on things like donkeys.
I could only giggle as I thought of this and I gave thanks that recently when I had Chapman, we drove to a hospital in a car – No barn and no donkeys. 🙂
Imperfectly perfect was perfect.
In fact, it was more than perfect, and as I looked around my little home this holiday season, and reflected on all that 2016 had given us, it couldn’t have been more full.
Christmas happened. We had our big birthday party for Jesus and Santa left oodles of goodies for the kids to celebrate it. Our home was full with family and our bellies were filled with delicious food (that I actually cooked and didn’t mess up!!!!!).
We did the traditional stuff, went to our Christmas Eve service, left out cookies and milk and sprinkled reindeer food. We took pictures in our pj’s in front of the (ugly) tree and I said a little prayer for the baby I miscarried around this time last year. I held my sweet Chapman a bit tighter and praised the Lord for him. We laughed and celebrated and our home was filled with nothing but joy.
All of that was more than we even needed. Despite our celebrations (and give in to commercialism – if I am truly honest), I never let the “imperfectly perfect” mantra depart from my thoughts.
I knew that all I truly needed we already had, and no matter the imperfections in my family, home, tree, wrapped present or myself, the perfect One had been gifted to us.
As we wrap up 2016 and have already kicked off 2017, I feel overwhelmingly thankful and content for all I have. I await with anticipation for the future and I think instead of “one word” for the year, I will focus on my phrase.
The past year was imperfect and the future will be as well. I am excited for the imperfections, lack of’s, struggles and challenges. I am also excited for the successes, wins, experiences and moments that I will have personally and with my family.
I am, more importantly, excited for the imperfections that allow me to see Him and His perfections more clearly.
Here is to 2017. Here’s to us all and to the lack of perfections that the days will bring. Here’s to the perfection in Him and here’s to our hearts being able to feel it.
May this year be our most imperfectly perfect, Christ-filled year yet.