I admit it. I let it get to me.
The hustle and bustle of holiday preparations. The stress of moving. Preparing for a looong road trip the day after Christmas. Seemingly ungrateful children. The 20″ of snow that threw a wrench in my plans for the week (and y’all know how I feel about my plans)
I, Melissa Smallwood, of Organized Life by Design, was feeling grumpy and overwhelmed (rather Grinch like, as a matter of fact)
I waited too long to take my feelings to the One who could help. But last night I finally did and this is how our conversation went:
“Melissa, Melissa; you are worried about so many things…but only one thing is needed.”
Ahem, Jesus…I hear you. But these things are important. Do you realize I haven’t even put up a Christmas tree this year? What kind of a mother am I?
“Come sit for a moment, my child. Let me take a look at this load you are carrying.”
I reluctantly sat at His feet, thinking of all I could be accomplishing during this time. As I lowered myself to the floor, I arranged my burden around me (so I could keep an eye on it).
“That is quite a load there. May I take a look?”
I handed Him the first box of burden. It was labeled obligation.
Cringing at the thought of Jesus opening and seeing all the projects I had committed to that I had not consulted with Him about, I began to cry.
Seeing my tears, Jesus reached down and caressed my face. “My dear sweet girl, this is a burden you come back to, time and again. Please let me carry it for you.”
Even being offered this out (so to speak) from the baking, decorating and shopping frenzy I hesitated to allow Jesus to take that box. What would people think if Mrs Holiday I didn’t put up a tree, deliver cookies to the neighbors and have a handmade bow atop each present?
As if reading my thoughts (He can do that, you know?) Jesus repeated words to me that He had spoken some 2000 years before : “Come to me, Melissa. You are weary and burdened and I can give you rest. Take MY yoke (and I will take yours) upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.” (paraphrase Matthew 11:28,29)
I was beginning to feel lighter not carrying that box of obligation on my lap so when Jesus reached down for the next box I did not resist.
“Ahh“, He said. “Another burden you consistently pick back up- expectation“.
I looked downward, embarrassed that I am so predictable. It is so easy to fall into our old patterns.
My expectations of myself can never be surpassed by anyone else’s expectations of me.
Shaking His head, in a gentle and compassionate way, Jesus said “You strive for that thing that can not be obtained- perfection. When will you stop striving and realize that it is in your weakness that I am strong? (I Corinthians 1:26-30) Please don’t waste your time and talents, those things I put in you to make you unique and special on striving for something you will never attain. Just simply abide in me, my child.”
By this point I realized how far I had traveled off the path.
Jesus continued to speak words of life to me “Don’t you see, sweet girl? Those moments when you are striving for everything to be perfect, you are standing in the way of My will. Let us walk together, don’t try to strain ahead.”
There was one more box of burden. I wanted to give this one to Jesus desperately, for it is the one that caused me the most pain and inner turmoil. But, knowing that relinquishing this burden meant dealing with this burden in His will created a battle within my flesh. People would be let off the hook, wrongs would not be righted, things would never change.
Sensing my reluctance, Jesus put his nail scarred hands on this box. My hands shook as He lifted it from my grasp. “Do not fear. I will give you the strength, let my light shine in to this area of darkness. All I ask from you is to love. Love freely, love willingly, love generously.”
But, I can’t. It is too hard.
“You can do anything with the strength I provide“. (Phillipians 4:13) “Will you do this for me? Will you let my peace rule in your heart and heal every hurt?”
With tears streaming down my face, I released my grasp on unforgiveness. As soon as I let go of that box of burden, I felt so light and free.
“Now go…enjoy your Christmas. I want everyone to experience joy and peace this season, not feel bound by burdens like yours. Will you share this freedom with others?”
And, so I do. If I could shout from the mountain tops I would. I am free because Jesus came down to this earth as a babe. Born to a teenage girl in a cave, He came so that you and I could have life, free from boxes of burdens.
Merry Christmas, my friends. If there are any burdens you carry this season, will you not hand them over to the One that stands waiting to bear them for you?