Tuesday, December 6

The thief of joy at Christmastime

Our tree stands fresh and fragrant in the corner of the living room. One by one packages appear below its branches. I listen to my favorite carols, and my heart swells at every note.

Christmas is coming, and I don't wait for December 25: "Joy to the world!" I sing at the top of my lungs.

I find myself wishing that I could sustain those feelings.  I want the joy of Christmas to pervade every part of my life.  

Then I sit at my computer to look for holiday inspiration. And as I browse through all the beautiful images, I feel my joy drain away. Stolen once again.

I see the beautifully decorated houses, and my own home seems plain and boring by comparison.  I get a glimpse of heartwarming family celebrations, and in comparison I feel cold and disconnected.  I click through photos of amazing crafts that someone created, and my efforts seem pitiful by comparison.

Even the good things I do seem to pale in comparison to others' work.  I hear that someone has raised thousands of dollars for a charity, and my gifts seem paltry by comparison.  I try to make Christmas merry for my family, but then I read about the amazing holiday experiences of some families, and ours feel lame in comparison.  Or else I read that some parents give their children only three gifts, and in comparison I feel extravagant and embarrassed. 

Finally I realize that I'm doing this to myself.  I'm comparing myself to others at every turn. Instead of gathering inspiration online, I've gathered reasons to feel inadequate.  Rather than embracing the beauty of the season, I've turned it into a kind of competition.  

Am I the only one?  Or have you done it, too?

There's a way to end the comparison game. There must be, and it has become my quest to find it.** 

For now, I simply want to change my behavior. I want to call a halt to allowing the thief of comparison to steal the joy of Christmas.

So this season I will practice two alternatives: gratitude and blessing.  I'm hoping that if I concentrate on being grateful for what I have, there won't be much time or energy left for concentrating on what I don't have.  Then, filled with gratitude for my blessings,  I am choosing to pray for others instead of comparing myself to them.  

This Christmas season, every time I am tempted to compare myself to someone else, I'm going to stop and pray this simple prayer:

"Dear Lord, please bless ___________. Thank you for giving them beauty to share.  And please help me to share the beauty you've given me."

That's it.  Nothing profound or deep; just a simple prayer of blessing.  But I think its effect on me might be profound. 

This Christmas, rather than concentrating on how other people outshine me, I'm going to remember that we all shine because God has given us light. If someone shines more brightly than I do, that's okay. There's much darkness to overcome. Someone else's bright light doesn't eliminate the need for my little light.

Would you like to join me? I believe there's plenty of room for all of us to shine our lights, reflecting the glory of the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.  

**Note: I continued that quest for several years, and I've written a book about it! Mythical Me: Finding Freedom from Constant Comparison is available now!


  1. Richella thank you for this post! I have been feeling the same way. I look at the beautiful images on instagram and feel my efforts lacking. I had already determined to not compare myself with others and be very thankful for blessings. Again,thanks. It was very well said.

  2. Oh Richella, this is so perfect and I am joining in completely. I keep seeing all the fabulous decor and thinking of how I could incorporate that into my new home instead of just enjoying everything. I am in a sea of boxes and the movers will be her next week, so not much Christmas going on here, but I am grateful just the same. I need to say your simple prayer and blessing a lot right now. God Bless.

  3. Pulling out my good ole stash and letting it shine in it's simplicity or grandeur. This little light of mine...I'm gonna let it shine. Thank you for shining yours!

  4. Richella, you are not the only one who feels this way. And not just at Christmas, but any time. I believe that God wants me to blog. I wonder sometimes if His intent was that I be a blessing to others or if His intent was to cleanse me of the dross! lol I've learned a lot about myself from blogging, comparing myself to others, seeing my weaknesses and what makes me hide. So I keep wrestling and obeying and looking for God's purposes. I know that having a beautiful home or being the best decorator is not what's most important to either one of us. I really respect those that are making a living through blogging. It's hard work, I'm sure they spend a lot of money styling their homes so beautifully, and their goal is different than mine. There will always be someone who is smarter, more beautiful, more talented, etc. than I am. But as I continue to find my identity in Christ, I realize that no one can be 'me' as well as I can and I am called to fill a place no one else can fill. So are you!
    You are beautiful! Your home is beautiful! You are called to do something no one else can do!
    love and blessings~
    Lynda @ Gates of Crystal

  5. Rachelle , I can tend to do the same thing. I remind myself now I decorate for my tastes and no one else except my husband. I have the hardest time accepting my limitations due to my MS but I work hard to make our house our home


  6. Richella, our family has gotten smaller over the years and it makes me sad. I also do the same, wishing for more. I will remember your true words and be so very grateful for what I do have. Wonderful reminder! Thank you, sweetie :)

  7. You are not the only one. It is easy to forget that HE alone is the reason for this season. I'm going to join you and let my little light shine. One could only hope that your attitude will spread like a wildfire.
    God bless you, Richella, for your courage to speak up to make a difference. To stand up and say I am a child of the One True King. Brava!

  8. Beautifully expressed. Beautiful decor. Thanks for sharing. Stopping by from Blogging Fifty share thread... Happy Holidays ~~ Susie from THe Chelsea Project

  9. Richella, I love this and no, you are not the only one who feels this way! I struggle with this every Christmas that I'm in blogland and it just gets more intensified every year. I'm stepping back this year, into my own life and family and being grateful for the blessings I have and not getting so caught up in the decorations of it all. This little light of mine!

  10. I love this post. You nailed it. I think we all need to count our blessings instead of looking at what everyone has. Thx you for sharing!

  11. I shared words written by Rachael Cruz back in the summer. Part of her words are this, " Contentment allows you to be in a state of joy and satisfaction. You are happy with where you are in life. That doesn’t mean you don’t have goals for the future or that you aren’t working toward being a better person tomorrow than you are today. It definitely doesn’t mean that you’re stagnant or apathetic, or that you’re choosing to sit around and do nothing new, exciting, and challenging with your life. It just means that you have a peace about your life and a sincere enjoyment about what you have today without basing all your happiness on what you hope to achieve tomorrow.

    Since we’re talking about comparisons, I will give you one big tip here: It’s almost impossible to be satisfied with your own life if you’re constantly looking at what someone else has. If you’re struggling to appreciate the blessings in your life and if you’re constantly distracted by the #blessings of other people, it may be time to put some blinders on for a little while.

    Shut off the social networks. Stop strolling through the mall. Unsubscribe from all those email newsletters and advertisements that try to convince you how much you’re missing. Spend that time and energy focusing on how much you truly have. Look at your family, your friends, your home, your job, and all the things in your life that really matter. Then rejoice in all you have."
    Rachel Cruz

  12. Thank you for sharing and showing how we should live all year round.

  13. Absolutely would love to join in that prayer with you! It's so easy to let comparison steal our joy at every season... thank you for such a simple way to practice gratitude and see the real gifts of the season! ♥

  14. Beautifully composted Richella...much joy to you this holiday season!

  15. Nicely done! Everyone has there own style, i get inspiration from other! but i always do my own thing. Being your own person is a truly wonderful thing!

  16. When you use one candle to light another one it doesn't take away anything from the light of the first one. You already know this; you just have to remember it.


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