FAITH: My “To Don’t” List


This year I have a “to DON’T” list for celebrating Christmas. I’ve determined that unless I am brave enough to make some decisions ahead of time, I will cave to “shoulds and woulds” when it comes to the festivities and frenzy. Let me explain.

The approach is not one that earns Grinch points. It is one of sincerity, kindness, thoughtfulness and giving of self. It doesn’t mean I’m taking a pious way “out” of  NOT doing, going or giving in usual or customary ways. It probably means I will have to think more about the next 23 days. I’m not sure I’m up to THAT but I’m going to try.

The main question I’m asking myself this year is this: What DON’T I have to do to?

Here are some answers:

I DON’T have to be rude – especially to store staffs who work tireless and many times thankless hours as grouchy people buy to have a “merry” Christmas. The gift of patience requires something of me. Who cares that I don’t personally know the person handling my transaction? Am I only supposed to be nice to people who know me? Somehow to me, it just doesn’t add up. Now I’ll warn you, math was NOT my best subject in school but I think you see which way I’m headed here.

I DON’T have to beep my car horn impulsively if the car in front of me doesn’t start moving in 2.2 seconds. The gift of patience might be just what the driver ahead needs. Yeah, it bugs me when drivers talk on the phone but maybe they will realize their distraction if I wait.

I DON’T HAVE to encur debt to help others know I love them. Maybe the self control I’m learning in spending will encourage them to consider changes in their spending habits and end up helping them see hope for their own financial frazzle. The gift of simplicity can be powerful.

I DON’T have to let others’ moods be the steering current as I navigate another season with new family configurations and experiences. The gift of graciousness and acknowledgment can be balms of peace. I may never see the results but I DON’T have to contribute to the stress and hightened emotions holidays can bring out in all of us.

I DON’T have to have my calendar so jammed up that I end up not seeing my family until Christmas Eve at church or Christmas morning for “family time.” The gift of limited availability provides the ability to really make ordinary moments matter, to have the time to extend a kind word, a hug or to actually make eye contract and listen to whomever is making an effort to communicate with me.

I  DON’T have to manufacture merriness just because everyone else has an extra dose of holiday spirit and mine seems a bit less in volume this year. The gift of honesty with myself can allow me and others around me to experience genuineness – happy or sad. Being a risk taker isn’t easy but I know that faux faith isn’t helpful to anyone – especially people who aren’t sure why we get so jazzed about a baby born a couple thousand years ago.

I  DON’T have to be the center of attention or “high need.”  The gift of consideration exerts new dynamics and while I can’t guarantee outcomes, I know that by using it I will end each night knowing I chose to not be a burden or require people to cater to me.

I could go on but I DON’T have to tell you what this approach might mean in your life. Discomfort? Perhaps. Challenge? Of course. The unexpected. Let’s hope!

After all, Jesus has many names recorded in the Bible but He is the hope of the world. My hope is for others to realize this very intangible, but life-altering gift. And the best part? One size truly fits all!


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