When You Need A Break From Christmas

These last few weeks have worn me out. I’m exhausted, and I just need a break from Christmas. With four kids, two businesses, and the Christmas clock ticking I continually feel behind. I’m late almost everywhere. I’ve missed appointments, missed my kids, and sometimes– even missed my sanity. It’s like this every Christmas for us, as it probably is for you, too, but this year has been especially hard.

Sometimes I just a need a time out, but I feel trapped. Trapped by school programs, a vicious work schedule, and sometimes even church demands. Christmas cards to be addressed, presents to be wrapped, meals to be planned, a house to be cleaned, and friends I haven’t talked to in weeks. This list of failures and the random tears are the evidence that perhaps I’m not balancing this right. My schedule is filled with good things— great things even—but in this rushed pace, I am missing something, and I think it’s making me crazy.

The reality is, I often continue this craziness and exhaustion until I am worn ragged. I dish out fractions of myself everywhere, but I’m not wholeheartedly invested anywhere. Have you ever been there?

Jesus and Ice Cream

Last Wednesday I dropped my kids of at church and darted out the door for a break from Christmas. I didn’t go to a life Bible study group as usual, nor did I linger to chat. I didn’t even sit in the foyer (where I would surely be put to work) and I didn’t tell anyone where I was going. I drove a few blocks down to a local ice cream shop and ordered a holiday favorite—peppermint chocolate chip. I sat there for over an hour in the first quiet I have had in weeks, with a bowl of ice cream and my Bible.

And then, the tinge of guilt.

For enjoying ice cream without my kids. They would be so jealous!

For skipping church. Will they notice I’m gone?

For not staying to help set up chairs. I’m supposed to be a servant.

And for eating that ice cream. How many calories are in this?

I silenced my phone and the thoughts that assaulted me and sat there with my ice cream and Jesus. It was a strange place for time with the Lord, especially when I should be in church. But here’s the thing—God is more interested in my heart than my attendance.

In these crazy-paced days I have rushed through quiet times, hurried prayers, and ran in and out of church doors without the intimate connection with God I long for. Doing this for weeks at a time had taken a toll; my walk felt distant, I lacked peace, and every delay or hiccup in my week sent me reeling into tears. I lost joy in what is supposed to be the most joyous season of all.

Have you been there? Has the struggle to get it all done made you sacrifice that joy? I don’t know if your to-do list has become the harsh dictator mine is. But here’s what I do know: the invitation to come and rest is always there.

Jesus is saying, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you…” (Matthew 11:28-29, MSG).

He is always adjusting our vision from the trivial, less important things to holy and eternal priorities.

What I’ve Learned

It’s okay to take a break from Christmas, but I do need the church, classes that challenge my growth, and to serve and be poured out for others. I need to be in the audience cheering my kids on at their Christmas plays. I need to give well thought-out gifts to those I love. And I do (really do!) need to make delicious cookies and sweet memories with my kids. I need to send Christmas photo cards sometime before New Year’s Day (it’s a miracle everyone was looking at the camera and smiling) and I do need to laugh with friends around the Christmas tree.

But what I need even more is intentional intimacy with Jesus.

And maybe some ice cream.

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