A Coursework in Reflection
I didn’t send out Christmas cards this year. I intended to. We even had photos taken. But along with the usual chaos of life, Cole came home from college, Elizabeth started a job, and Danny was traveling. The next thing I knew it was December 24th and the cards never materialized. I really wish I’d done that.
On a positive note, I impulsively decided to make ornaments for friends and family. The project took waaaaay longer than I anticipated, but I loved it. I was reminded anew that I love creating things.
I planned neither the absence of Christmas cards nor the presence of homemade ornaments. But next year? I want to remember both. I want to learn from this Christmas. And yet I worry that next year I’ll be caught up in the same maelstrom of the season and forget my triumphs and defeats.
We are constantly given opportunities to grasp and grow. But the lessons can disappear like smoke in the breeze of the next thing. Cards and ornaments are seasonal, but other experiences have the potential to bear long lasting fruit. This Christmas, I was intentional about soaking up time with my parents, who are both alive and healthy. I nurtured contentedness by spending only what we budgeted. I felt the Lord leading me in new ways and acted upon His promptings. I don’t want to take these blessings for granted. And I don’t want my future Christmases to miss out on these lessons either; buried under a pile of next year’s busyness.
The apostle Luke wanted to recount what he witnessed in the life of Jesus, so he wrote it down for his friend Theophilus. He wrote, “Since I have investigated all the reports in close detail, starting from the story’s beginning, I decided to write it all out for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt the reliability of what you were taught.”(Luke 1:3-4 MSG)
Learning can happen through experience, but we need to be intentional about internalizing what we’ve been taught. Even hard lessons are valuable. To learn, we must remember. To remember, we must take the time to reflect.
What have you learned this Christmas season?
What do you want to remember “with reliability”?
What do you want to leave behind?
This last week of December, as we straddle what has happened with what is coming, we have a particular opportunity to ponder Christmas. We can reflect now so that next year, we will not forget the lessons of what just happened. Even if we don’t share them with a friend, we can share them with our future self.
Next year, Christmas will be different. 365 days’ worth of experiences, relationships, circumstances and decisions will have happened. It will hold a coursework in reflection all its own.
Christmas 2018 will not take place again. Don’t deny yourself the gift of reflecting on what it held. May what you've learned influence your faith, gratitude, and intentions for the year to come.
Wishing you the Happiest of New Years,
PS- I’ve created a download that offers reflective questions about Christmas 2018 and room for your responses. Print it, fill it out, and place your reflections in your Christmas decorations for you to discover next year. It’s like a mini time capsule! May it offer a space for you to reflect, rejoice, and remember Christmas 2018 for all its lessons, heartbreak, joy, and blessings.