Wednesday, December 16

The thief of Christmas joy

Even though it's 2020, and even though nothing seems to have gone right this year, here's one thing I know to be true: Christmas is coming. 

And this year of all years, I am so ready for it. I deck the halls with boughs of holly. I read my Advent devotional books. I light candles. I sing carols at the top of my lungs. I wish I could stand outside, mouth wide open, like a kid trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue—and that joy would just pour into me. I want the joy of Christmas to pervade every nook and cranny of my heart. 

Then I open Instagram, hungry for more holiday inspiration. And as I browse through all the beautiful images, I feel my joy drain away. Stolen once again.

I've done this so many times before. 

I see the beautifully decorated houses, and my own home seems plain and boring by comparison.  I get a glimpse of small but heartwarming family celebrations, and in comparison I feel cold and lonely.  I click through photos of amazing crafts and gaily wrapped packages and sugar cookies perfectly flooded with royal icing—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. 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?

Comparison has always been my Achilles' heel. In fact, I struggled with comparison for so long that I wrote a book about my journey of wrestling with it and the ways I've found freedom from it. InterVarsity Press published the book, called Mythical Me: Finding Freedom from Constant Comparison. 

In Mythical Me, I tell a story that I'm remembering this Christmas. One week I was rushing around like crazy, trying to pack too many activities into too little time. In the middle of one of the busiest days, a friend asked how I was doing, and I answered honestly: "Frantic."

My friend pressed for details, and I shared them: in addition to the normal activities and responsibilities of the week, my son was celebrating a milestone birthday, I was hosting a dinner party for an important client, and I was preparing for a business trip that would keep me away from home for a week. With a haircut and a dentist's appointment thrown in for good measure, I had way too many things to do and not enough time to do them, at least not the way I wanted to do them.

And how did I want to do them? Well, I had great examples. One of my friends makes each family celebration unforgettable. Another is an ace hostess. Yet another glides through business trips with apparent ease. I wanted to perform at least as well as the people I was comparing myself to, if not better than anyone else could.

Had I stopped to think about how privileged I was? Did I pause to consider how rich my life was? Not one bit. Instead, I let myself be frazzled by trying to be the best at everything.

My friend prayed for me, and I heard God's voice speak to me. Simply and clearly, God said, "I made you to bless, not to impress."

Tears sprang to my eyes as I realized that truth. The reason I was working through my long list was to bless people. When I got stuck in comparing myself to others, I lost sight of that purpose. My talented friends had inspired me and taught me, blessing me with their examples. But when I started comparing myself to them, I twisted that blessing into a kind of contest that no one could win.
I'm determined to follow my own advice this year. So 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. Praying it certainly won't impress anyone. But I think its effect on me might be profound. 

God made us to bless, not to impress

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 so much darkness to overcome. Someone else's bright light doesn't eliminate the need for my little light.

Would you like to join me? Maybe we can all concentrate on blessing rather than impressing. 

In 2020, like never before, 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.  


  1. Oh, how I love this post!!! I, too, look at all the 'picture perfect' homes and (in my humble opinion) over-decorated rooms that make me feel I can't breath or even look at everything. As I'm growing older, I hope I'm learning to appreciate what I have and even appreciate enjoying less instead of more in my decorating! Blessings to you and your and a very Merry Christmas!!!

  2. Richella, what a great post! We all need to remind ourselves of this truth. It's the same principle for so many things, whether it's social anxiety or other kinds of fear about what people think or what you have pointed out so well, comparison. When we focus on others, we get the focus off ourselves and put it where it should be. Thanks for sharing. Merry, blessed Christmas to you and yours!

  3. I too love this post! Such a good reminder! Happy New Year!

  4. This is very educational content and written well for a change. It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post! slilpps

  5. Getting your lover or your ex back has been made more easy by this powerful spell caster called Dr Odion. I am Rose by name and i am from canada, the only reason why i am on this site is to thank this powerful spell caster called DR. Odion and you can improve your relationship success by contacting him through these details ( Or call +2348136482342) This powerful spell caster did me a huge favor by helping me get my lover back to me within the speed of light and since then my relationship has been perfect.

    any problem of yours.He is specialized in the following:

    (1)Spell for protection from danger
    (2)Spell for magic
    (3)Spell for same sex love
    (4)Spell for healing
    (5)Spell for invisibility
    (6)Spell for riches and fame
    (7)Spell to get a good job
    (8)Spell for strong love and relationship
    (9)Spell to bring your ex back
    (10)speII for Lottery
    This man has great powers and is incredibly generous.You can contact him on


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I read every one; they make my day. If you have a specific question, please be sure your email address is attached to your profile or leave your email address in the comment; I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Every blessing!