So hands up if you have either under-burned or over-burned your advent candle yet? We are slightly behind, but it seems to burn for about the right amount of time.
Chaos seems to be an advent theme in our house.
For one thing there’s a whole lot of extra stuff in the house: teddies wearing Santa hats have taken possession of one of the chairs in the sitting room; there is an ever-increasing display of books from ‘Santa’s Lost his Pants’ to ‘The Little Matchgirl’ in the corner and a wobbly pile of festive films has taken up residence by the telly.
Not only is my house full of extra stuff, but my head is full of extra TO DO!
For example, on top of the usual extra jobs and events, we persevere our way through our Advent Line each year.
The details are on the Resources page, but basically it is a bible overview involving activities, crafts and teaching for each day in Advent.
I say persevere because I seem to be days behind on it more often than not – leaving me with the general impression of chasing my tail! You would think that having done it for 7 years I would be on top of things. But no! You see, although the bible doesn’t change, the children are always a year older, and the time on any given day varies, and another development comes to me, or a glaring hole in the overview that I spot every year and have yet to re-work once again makes itself apparent…….and so I am regularly printing stuff off, or cutting things out minutes before we are meant to be doing it – and that’s on a good day!
I don’t think the rest of the family mind the chaos – in fact I think they would call it excitement and fun! – but it definitely gets to me. I go into overwhelm and then I can’t see my way through. My ability to filter (never good at the best of times) disappears completely and my productivity, not to mention my pleasure in it, plummets.
Is that just the price I pay for wanting the traditions and the teaching? Given my temperament/wiring: is chaos and my reaction to it just inevitable?
The alternatives are:
Just be more organised next year and it will all be fine! Well yes, but let’s be honest, while there were specific factors this year that hijacked the opportunities in November to get all organised, I’m sure there will be new ones next year!
Do less next year. Stop being over-ambitious.
Seriously? Don’t be ridiculous – I can’t do that, or more honestly maybe I don’t want to do that. I love our tradition of getting things out of the advent bag each day and gradually decorating the house and slowly bringing out our festive films and books. I also love getting all the festive (i.e. nothing to do with Jesus) out and enjoyed early on and then PUT AWAY in the week running up to Christmas, leaving us focussed on where we can really find our joy.
And the Advent Line – it is something we enjoy and for all its faults it is slowly piecing together some great truths and giving an eternal perspective to the advent season.
So my conclusion is to not mind muddling through. To take the cost that a bit of chaos involves for me personally – recognise the drain it causes and prayerfully manage it. To enjoy a good bit of organisation when it happens, but to accept that there will always be other ideas and plans waiting in the wings to fill any time available. And finally not to aim for perfection – a day not done, or not done well is not a problem for our mighty Lord. If I am looking to teach his word with affection and truth then he will honour that, and use it for his glory. If I don’t manage the amazing home-made gifts that I have planned and need to buy some chocolates instead – that’s OK. If what I hoped was my last trip to the shops turns out to be anything but… I can take a deep breath and prayerfully let go of the panic that floods over me at the slightest hint of failure, mess and mistake and proceed with joy and thankfulness that he is in control.
Dear Father, Lord over the chaos, mighty sovereign always at work behind and within the mistakes and the mess, help me to do what I can to love you this season, to do it extravagantly and cheerfully and please provide me with what I need each day to do so in godliness and gentleness, looking to the interests of others and trusting you to look after mine. Thank you for energising me in you as I pray in the precious name of Jesus who knows what it is to live in real chaos and mess, Amen.