One of the great joy killers during the Christmas season is expectations. Many of us have such high hopes for how the Christmas season is to go down. Stress and disappointment come when reality doesn’t match our expectations. The truth about Christmas, and about life in general, is that what actually happens is rarely what we expect. What is important is to cultivate a flexible spirit. A merry Christmas, as well as a happy life, comes when reality is met with cheer whether it meets our expectations or not. The unhappiest people are those who try to control their future. I speak from experience here. When the future hasn’t gone the way I have wanted, which is almost always the case, I have been known to pitch a Santa sized fit.
But what do we hear when we listen to the Christmas narrative? I know that Mary and Joseph didn’t expect anything to go the way it did on that journey to Bethlehem: Labor ensues away from home. No room in the Inn. No family around to help. Animals as witnesses. Manger as his first bed. Talk about your Christmas expectations shattering. That first Christmas was pretty messy. So, expect your Christmas and life to be messy too, and choose to do what Mary did. She praised God for what he has done through Jesus.
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.” (Luke 1:46-50, NLT)
This Christmas, don’t expect reality to match your high expectations but instead, place upon yourself the expectation to be flexible, to love, to cheer, and to even praise to God.