Sunday, December 25, 2011

Dusty Corners, Shoveling Snow and a Christmas Revelation

So, if you can't tell, I think a lot. :) I have a slew of topics I have been pondering for years and years. I've learned that if I keep these questions in the back of my mind, often the answer will jump out at me at the most random times.

Case in point...

I love Christmas as much as most of the world. It is a glorious time. It is a fun time

It seems to be the one time of year enough of us allow ourselves to display enough love to those around us that there is a noticeable difference in the world.

And that is precisely my question about Christmas. Why don't we do that all year long? Why don't we spend as much energy doing good for all others during the other 11 months of the year, as we do during the month of December? Why isn't it more acceptable to be open about our faith in Jesus Christ during the the other 11 months as it is in December?

I've pondered this for years now, maybe even the majority of my life. Mostly because I notice this problem in my own heart and I want it fixed.  Because I grew up in a "needy" family and some nice stuff was done for us at Christmastime, but we needed help all year.  I would find myself wondering if people were helping because they really wanted to or just because it was Christmas. Why just at Christmastime?

So I was cleaning the house the other day and whining to myself about how I clean the same messes every single day. I have corners of my house that I have never cleaned. Not because I am lazy, but because I spend all of my energy cleaning the day-to-day living messes; I never get to the dusty corners.

This funny thought popped into my mind, "Cleaning the house while your children are still little is like shoveling snow while it is still snowing."

It seems pointless to shovel snow while it is still snowing right? It also feels pointless to clean a room, knowing that as soon as you move onto the next room, your children are going to mess up the room you just cleaned. (I will say, however, that I'm grateful to just have children, even if they do mess up the house. Their messes are evidence that they are there.)

I silently chuckled to myself, but then another thought popped into my mind, "What if you never cleaned because you thought it was useless?" My house would be 100 times messier. So, I keep plugging away at cleaning knowing that if I wasn't cleaning at all, my house would be in an unlivable state.

And then it happened. From out of nowhere came the Christmas connection...

"What if we stopped having Christmas?"

Ponder that one for a while. What I came up with, in a very teeny nutshell, is that the world would be in an unlivable state.Think about it.

Yes, maybe we do more good deeds for others in December. Maybe we talk more about Jesus Christ in December. Maybe our hearts are softer and more forgiving and more grateful during the month of December. Maybe we try to do more as a family and love more and make things more special.

But what if we never had a December? It would be like never cleaning the house, or never shoveling the driveway. The world would be in an unlivable state.

Maybe it is no coincidence that we start a new year the week after we celebrate the birth of our Savior. We just spent a month getting our hearts back where they needed to be.

We can start fresh with a renewed resolve to keep our hearts in the right place. And then, as human nature takes its toll throughout the year, Christmas will come again and we will realize it is time to get back to where we had wanted to be the year before and maybe this year, the resolve will last longer than it did before.

So on this Christmas night, after the gifts have been opened, the food has been eaten, the events of the day have come and gone...let us not finish with Christmas. As we pack away our Christmas decorations, let's not pack away our Christmas Spirit.

We can pack away Santa Claus, Jingle Bells and all of the twinkling lights. But let's keep Joy to the World, softer hearts toward those in need, the spirit of giving, fun family activities and believing in angels singing to shepherds. Let's keep the Wise Men and public programs where songs are sung about Jesus with no embarrassment. Let's keep peace on earth good will toward men.

“What is the spirit we feel at Christmastime?” asked Church President Thomas S. Monson in a 2009 Christmas devotional. “It is His spirit — the spirit of Christ."

 Along with his two counselors in the First Presidency, President Thomas S. Monson wrote, “There is no better time than this very Christmas season for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus Christ. It is the time to love the Lord our God with all our heart and our neighbors as ourselves. This joyful season will bring to each of us a measure of happiness that corresponds to the degree in which we have turned our minds, feelings and actions to the spirit of Christmas. … Let [this] be a time of forgetting self and finding time for others. Let it be a time for discarding the meaningless and for stressing true values. Let it be a time of peace because we have found peace in His teachings. We testify of the living reality of our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ. He is indeed ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6).”

Peace is found at Christmastime and it can be carried with us throughout the year. Even if we each just did one more nice thing next year than we did this year...can you imagine the good we can do? Can you imagine the peace we can bring to this earth if we keep trying and don't give up?

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. Peace comes from one source...the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

I have hopes for the coming year. But even in those hopes, I am aware of my weaknesses and flaws. I will make mistakes. I will have to pick myself up and start all over again and again and probably again and again. But I know this (because I'm learning from experience)...

As the Inn Keeper might have sung in describing how he overcame his decision to not let Joseph and Mary have a room that first Christmas night...

"He never would condem me,
I did that all on my own.
he offers His forgiveness
and ever since then, I've known,
He lets us choose 
each hour of each day
if we'll let Him in to stay.

Let Him in

He forgives. He guides. He listens. He understands. He builds. He saves. He atones. He advocates. He lives. He LOVES.

He's even with you when you are cleaning your house. Maybe I can work harder at getting to some of those dusty corners this year. Maybe. :)

Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season - and the reason why we can have and enjoy every other season as well.

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