By Charity Schaulis, Executive Director

Decorating, shopping, going to parties, bustling, these are signs of holiday joy. Or, do just the thought of holiday expectations tighten the muscles in your spine? A friend recently posted on Facebook something about how joy isn’t found in the win; rather joy is found in the process. Do you believe that? Somehow I wonder if Christmas time has become more about achieving expectations than the process of experiencing joy.

Where is true contentment found? Inner peace is found in Jesus. But what drives us to compete for that holiday expectation to produce that “perfect Christmas” all the while avoiding time with those we love? Why do I spend all my extra hours shopping or serving the “needy” rather than being with my family? Who buys Christmas cookies instead of baking them? How can I can decorate just one tree in the house rather than all four? What about the expectation!

In his book, Toxic Charity, Robert Lupton stats, “Doing for rather than doing with those in need is the norm.” Somehow along the way of serving we have lost the joy of relationship. When we are caught up in the busyness of the season, we don’t make time to make a lasting difference in the lives around us. Truth is, many of us find it easier to throw parties or shop than maintain conversations with those in our own family. “There is no simple or immediate way to discern the right response without a relationship,” Lupton continues.

Relationships are hard. They take time and are messy. We cannot control how others respond. Sometimes it is easier to just shop. Buy a gift. Wrap it up. Drop it off.

But easy can be lonely and empty. Remember, you are a person of value and significance. If you don’t know that, it is time to be absorbed in God’s deep love for you in spite of your shortcomings. Give yourself permission to not meet all the expectations.

This Christmas season spend intentional time with someone you care about. Relationship is the best gift. It is time to make a lasting investment.