At 5:36 I gave up. Sensing the need to be with God, to pray over my nagging to-do-list, to make a plan for the day I got out of bed and came downstairs to my favorite spot beside the tree. I got my Bible, my journal, my calendar. I made up lists and lesson plans. I prayed. I did what I thought I needed to do to tame the anxiety I felt in my heart.
As my day went on I kept waiting for peace and joy to come but I continued to feel a weight on my shoulders. Instead of peace and joy, I felt irritated, grumpy, and extremely discouraged.
I know we all have days like this. I know we have an enemy who stalks us and hormones that betray us. I know the holidays can be crazy and rainy days endlessly dreary.
I know. I know. I know.
But despite my best efforts to combat it all, I still felt a little like Scrooge. Like George Bailey on his worst day.
In the late afternoon, I strapped my kids into our van and headed for the library. It was a promise I made that morning and while not a bone in my body wanted to go, I didn’t want to let them down, so off to the library we went. And do you know? We had a wonderful time.
After the library and after supper my family gathered on the couch to watch A Christmas Carol. It was a perfect ending to a not-perfect day and as I went to bed I considered the day I’d had, my attitude and my actions. I began to rethink the days to come, the days between now and Christmas…
There’s still a lot to do. There’s cookies to make and presents to wrap. There’s time with family and friends. There’s the preparing of my heart for the King who is coming and everyday life to attend to.
But instead of seeing all of it through eyes and a heart that looks at the list and thinks, “I have to bake, wrap, fix, plan, prepare, create, be…” I now saw my list through “Scrooge-Bailey Eyes.”
At the end of A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life, the characters of Scrooge and George Bailey are given the gift of seeing their lives differently. Where they were once deeply disenchanted they become transfixed with the enchantment of their lives.
Ebenezer’s would-be-chains are broken as Scrooge makes mankind his business. George Bailey is no longer troubled by a broken-down house, a broken-down business or his own broken-down heart in light of what might have been. What used to bother, discourage, and dishearten suddenly beams with joy.
Seeing their world through different eyes, through a different heart they no longer think, “I have to…” but instead rejoice, “I get to…”
Scrooge wakes from the nightmare of Christmas Eve, from the nightmare of his life and says, “I get to serve my fellow man…”
George Bailey finds himself alive on a bridge with bloodied lip and thinks, “I get to go home to my family…”
I lay in bed with my girls sleeping like angels down the hall and think, “I get to be their mom…”
I think of their faces. Of Aletheia at five and Tenley at three.
I think of this time. This moment. This now. It is all so precious. So temporary.
How many years do I really get with them in fleecy footed pajamas? With little hands hanging ornaments? With Christmas lights shining in wondrous eyes?
The answer is, not many.
And the moments I spend with have-to eyes and a have-to heart are moments when the gift of now is lost, when the sacred and precious gift of now is wasted on a blind woman who desperately needs new eyes.
A broken woman who needs eyes to see, and ears to hear, and a heart to believe that it is a wonderful life. That Christmas is a carol and it’s ringing the truth of our days.
The truth that life is not a list of have-tos, but an endless gift of get-tos. And the difference between discouragement and joy, between anxiety and peace is found in the way we see the list, in the way we receive the gift.
Don’t waste the gift of now. Don’t have-to it away.
Instead, see and receive the gift of now with I get to eyes. Open the gift of Him with an I get to heart.
And find it all around. In the nooks and crannies of every day. In the lists, and the plans, and the life that unfolds…
Joy, like Christmas morning…
Peace, like falling snow…
Grace, like a bell, like a carol reminding us that it really is a wonderful, magical, beautiful life.
This life He’s given. This life we get to live.