Wednesday, December 2, 2009

the simple blessings of christmas: childlike wonder

The Simple Blessings of Christmas
The simple blessings of Christmas are all around us - but in the hustle and bustle of the season we too easily miss them! That's the premise behind a new gift book, The Simple Blessings of Christmas, I wrote with my friends from Inspired Faith (part of Mac Anderson's Simple Truths gift company). Over the next two weeks I am going to excerpt a few of the 30 short chapters. You can also click here to view the inspirational "movie" that goes along with the book. Hope you enjoy! If you do, I would truly appreciate you passing along a good word to your friends and family. They just might enjoy too! Thanks.

Simple Blessing #3

Christmas reveals the wisdom of childlike wonder.

Christmas! The very word brings joy to our hearts. No matter how we may dread the rush, the long Christmas lists for gifts and cards to be bought and given—when Christmas Day comes there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth that enfolds our hearts and our homes.
Joan Winmill Brown

Jesus called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:2–4

Even though little Cindy Lou Who didn’t stop the Grinch from stealing Christmas, most Dr. Seuss experts still think it was her big brown eyes that first pierced the his heart and begin his personal transformation, even before he heard the whole community come out and sing from his icy hilltop home.

What are the characteristics of a Grinch?

Nothing showcases the heart of a Grinch better than cynicism. Looking at everyone and everything with jaded and jaundiced eyes. A true Grinch would never be satisfied to watch another person perform a good deed during the holidays, but would take time to wonder who that person thinks they are trying to impress.

Isolation is another surefire way of showing the world your inner Grinch. Getting together with family and friends can be too much of a hassle, can’t it? Why go to a special church service when you’ve had enough of crowds at the mall? And the neighborhood progressive dinner will conflict with a TV show you wanted to watch!

Then there’s a resentful spirit that hates to see others experiencing blessings in life. Such a small-spirited outlook declares one to be a top-tier Grinch.

But there’s more that goes into being a Grinch. Irritability. Short temper. Meanness. Making fun of others for their innocence and joy.

Now if you’ve had enough of being a Grinch, there is a cure if you’ve seriously been feeling like canceling Christmas for yourself—and everyone else—this year. It begins with humility. Not believing you are too sophisticated and cultured to stop and admire the tinsel and the toys. It continues with the words of Jesus to His followers when some thought the kids were being a nuisance and distracting them from grown-up concerns. He said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).

Lost the wonder of Christmas? Maybe you need to watch a child enjoying the season. Whatever it takes, spend some time with small kids this Christmas. Have some friends or family members with kids come over to decorate cookies. Take a family you know out on a Christmas light tour or to an outdoor Nativity scene. Or help an organization that delivers toys to needy children—and see if you can be part of the delivery team.

Kids approach Christmas activities with unabashed enthusiasm. Watching their excitement and outright glee over things as simple as sugar cookies and wrapping paper, you just might find your heart softening—or growing three sizes—and your cynicism melting. You’ll be filled with compassion for children and an appreciation for their ability to really celebrate. Best of all, what will replace your hard heart is a renewed sense of childlike wonder and joy.

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