Second Chances

Sometimes I forget that God loves to give us second chances. I have had a rough week that was really starting to snowball. I have been irritable and had very little patience with the faults of others. The number of errands that needed to be run this week was well above average and that, on top of all the holiday activities that we've been planning, left me feeling over-scheduled and out of control. Nothing triggers the nasty side of my personality like the feeling that others are trying to exert control (real or imagined) over my life. So I found myself distancing myself from my husband, snapping at my children, and... basically, being a jerk.

During moments of clarity, I was aware of my behavior and it made me sick. It's not something that I like to admit, but empathy is a trait that I have to actively strive for in myself. It does not come naturally to me. When I stopped to listen to my own words to my kids, I could hear the sharp edge and lack of empathy behind the words and I felt awful. Toward the end of the week, Eli started getting sick and that, sadly, only made things worse.
I want to make my kids feel wrapped in love and cared-for when they are sick, but I was still suffering from this awful irritability. I was trying to be compassionate toward Eli, but finding myself angry when he didn't act or respond the way that I wanted him to. I was also struggling against resentment toward him and his illness for interfering with my plans. And that just made me feel like a bigger jerk.
Like I said, it was all beginning to snowball. By the time yesterday afternoon rolled around, I was in a full-blown funk. I had decided that I was "ruining Christmas" and didn't deserve to be anyone's mother. Unfortunately, the latter sentiment is an old refrain for me. I lay in bed for a long time last night, with a sick 4-year-old coughing on the back of my head, and felt sorry for myself. I woke up this morning feeling just as crummy. Blergh.
But, this is where the God of Second Chances comes in. Lila was not home, Renee was not home, Doug and Eli were in the backyard, and I found myself alone in the living room. I couldn't muster the motivation to do anything more than lay on the couch and stare... but that was the perfect place for God to speak to me. He showed me the lies that I was believing: that it was my job to create a perfect Christmas for my kids, that I was failing, that I should give up.
He reminded me of what Christmas really is and how its perfection has nothing to do with my actions. It seems so obvious now! Christmas is a celebration of Jesus, the greatest gift ever given. If our focus is on Jesus, then it is a perfect Christmas. Participating in traditions and planning activities can definitely be fun, and they are a good thing - as long as they are pointing our focus in the right direction, rather than dragging our attention away from Him.
I was grumpy and rude to my family. That sucks and I can't change it. But I can acknowledge my sin, ask for forgiveness, and rely on the strength of the Savior we celebrate to help me do better today. I won't be perfect, but that's okay because He is perfect and He loves to give us second chances!

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