A Discontented Christmas
Christmas is fast approaching, and everyone else around you seems excited by it. Instead, you’re wondering how it’s been a year since last Christmas. Your thoughts turn to all the things that still need organizing and dread begins to creep in as you know the upcoming days will likely entail long hours in the kitchen, traveling with tired children, trying to find the right presents and a jam-packed calendar of Christmas events.
You’re hoping to make special Christmas memories that you and your children will cherish while part of you is also looking forward to when Christmas is all over. Also, this year may not have brought what you had hoped for. At Christmas, it’s easy to think back to the last Christmas and the hopes, plans and aspirations that we had for the year ahead. As we arrive at another Christmas, it’s easy to feel disappointed that we’re not where we thought we would be a year ago. It’s very easy for mothers to feel discontent at any time of the year, but this can happen even more so in the build-up to Christmas. Signs of being discontent this Christmas may include the following:
- Casually flicking through our social media feeds makes us think that everyone is having a better Christmas than we are as the photos show perfectly decorated houses, piles of wrapped presents under the tree, and immaculate well-behaved children.
- We think that by having a perfectly decorated home, piles of wrapped presents under the tree, and immaculate well-behaved children, our Christmas would be better.
- We think we know everything we need to get for the big day, then more adverts pop up on our phone with things we feel we should add to our shopping list.
- Conversations with friends leave us thinking that our Christmas sounds dull and boring in comparison.
The advertising industry works by making us discontent with what we have, and this happens at Christmas time more so than at any other time of the year. There is pressure everywhere to buy products at Christmas which are geared to help us create the “perfect” Christmas.
We are saturated with adverts on television, in newspapers and magazines and in recent years with a bombardment of adverting on the internet. Advertising isn’t the only way the internet can lead to discontentment. Social media has become a large part of many mother’s lives.
Social media has many uses and benefits but a downside can be that mothers are constantly faced with photos and updates of others and their “perfect” lives, leading us to potentially feel dissatisfied. All of this can lead mothers to seek the latest items/products thinking that they will make us content. These will only bring momentary happiness though, and instead, we should be seeking Christ, the only true way to give us contentment and satisfaction this Christmas and throughout the year. Seeking after and buying more and more can also lead to money and debt worries, which can lead to strife and a lack of peace both individually and within our homes.
Into the Bible
Read Ecclesiastes 4:8, Ecclesiastes 5:10, and Ecclesiastes 6:7 and consider the following questions:
- Is discontentment a new issue?
- What is the result of a love of money?
These passages show that discontentment is not a modern-day issue. These verses explain how it is the love of money that is wrong, as someone who loves money can never be satisfied. Despite all the temptations around us to spend money this Christmas, these things will never satisfy us. Only through a personal relationship with Christ can we be truly content and fulfilled this Christmas. Contentment can never be found through what the world has to offer.
Read Philippians 4:10-13 and consider the following questions:
- Did being content come naturally to Paul? Is being content likely to come naturally to mothers at Christmas time today?
- What is the secret of being content in any and every situation?
Paul really knew what it was like to be in need. He was writing this letter to the Philippians from prison yet he was able to say that he was content whatever his circumstances because he knew the secret of being content (verse 12) which is his relationship with Christ. Verse 11 and 12 refers to how Paul had learned to be content. It didn’t come naturally for him and it is unlikely to come naturally to mothers either especially with all the additional pressures during December but we too can learn to be content.
Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10 and consider the following questions:
- What does Paul say brings great gain when combined with contentment?
- What should we be content with?
- What is the danger for people who want to get rich?
- What is the root of all kinds of evil?
Here Paul writes more on the issue of contentment in his letter to Timothy. Timothy was a young leader, and Paul was writing to encourage him in his leadership of one of the early churches. In this passage, Paul states that Godliness with contentment is great gain. Similar to the passages from Ecclesiastes (see above), Paul is explaining that chasing after additional things is meaningless as these things cannot be taken with us when we die. Paul continues by explaining that seeking wealth and riches is dangerous and can lead people away from the faith.
The writer of the Hebrews (Hebrews 13:5) also calls on the reader to be content with what they have and to keep their lives free from the love of money and then goes on to quote from Deuteronomy where God told his people the Israelites that he would never leave them nor forsake them. That amazing truth is still the case for us today and remembering this and seeking to place him first in our lives is the only way to be truly content. This Christmas, may we put everything into perspective, not get caught up in a mad buying frenzy and be content with the huge blessings we already have.
A Contented Christmas
Steps to take this Christmas
Step 1-Recognize the discontentment:
Discontentment can present in many ways at Christmas time e.g., due to money, possessions, circumstances you wish were different or making comparisons with others and their lives. Consider what is making you discontent this Christmas?
Step 2-Address the discontentment:
Consider what you can do to be more content this Christmas? What practical steps can you take when you feel discontent?. E.g., reduce social media time/presence, get other interests, serve in your church/community, and help others in need.
Step 3-Consider the impact:
What would the effect be for you and your family if you were to be content whatever the circumstances this Christmas?
Step 4-Share with others:
How can you demonstrate to others that your relationship with Christ is the only true source of contentment this Christmas?
Step 5-Pray for contentment this Christmas:
- Ask God to help you make your relationship with him your primary focus this Christmas.
- Pray that you will learn to be content whatever your Christmas is like.
- Pray that you won’t be under the false illusion that you need more money/possessions this Christmas to be content and fulfilled.
- Pray that you will be careful in how you talk about your situations/circumstances.
- Pray that you won’t pass any discontentment onto your children but instead will discuss and demonstrate to them true contentment that is only found through a personal relationship with Jesus, rather than through Christmas presents!
- Pray for help from the Lord in rejecting the idea of a “perfect Christmas” which doesn’t exist anyway!
- Read and pray through Psalm 63:1-5. Pray to earnestly seek him this Christmas as his love is better than life!
Tips for a Contented Christmas
- Prioritize our relationship with Jesus this Christmas. Have our focus on him first.
- Accept that there will always be something this Christmas that we would like to be different but instead learn to be content whatever our circumstances. There’s always going to be something that we don’t have but instead thank God for what we do have.
- Stop wanting more that cannot fulfill and satisfy us.
- Comparison can lead to discontentment. Don’t compare ourselves with others this Christmas. Don’t worry about what others are doing and how they’re spending their Christmas. Enjoy using our social media accounts, but don’t overuse them. Remember that nobody is having a perfect Christmas.
- Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that what we don’t have is better than what we do have.
- Don’t place so much significance on the insignificant things of Christmas. Although there are so many things around at Christmas to do and buy, remember that none of it can satisfy.
- Recognize when we’re feeling discontent in the run-up to Christmas and do something to address it. Often it’s so common to feel discontentment that we just get used to it. Don’t just accept feelings of discontentment but aim to fight against it instead with the gospel.