Merry Christmas Eve! I pray you embrace a life of blessed dependence. Let all the ways you aren’t perfect drive you to the Lord. Around the holidays, I know that so many readers here don’t feel the best. You maybe feel like it hasn’t been your best year, like you’ve made too many mistakes that others see, and that everyone else expected more from you. It’s the classic shame response. Many young people, for example, have to answer questions about why they’re still single, why they aren’t in a better job, or why they haven’t yet done this or that. Maybe you’re reading and you didn’t get into your choice college. Maybe your semester didn’t go so well. So you might interpret every inquiry about your life through the lens of shame. And even if the questions aren’t that explicitly shaming, there’s often always a subtext that we wish you’d be better.
The best remedy—in fact the only remedy–is the freedom you have in the unconditional acceptance, delight, favor, and blessing of Jesus. Imagine Him declaring over you a hearty “Well done!” Imagine Jesus reminding you now that you were never perfect, you won’t ever be perfect, and that your perfection only comes from your union with Him. He will work out in your life “that which is pleasing to him” (Philippians 2:13). He invites you into all of the privileges of being a child of God (Ephesians 1).
When you feel overcome with any negative emotion, remember that this very feeling drives you into blessed dependence upon Jesus. As we celebrate His birth, we especially take note of the humble, degrading circumstances of his arrival and care. He comes right into the shame of it all as a rescuer for you and me.
Finally, as a woman in my mid-forties, I love taking on the role of mentor and someone declaring blessing over others like the royal priest in 1 Peter 2:9. I take seriously the fact that Jesus is conforming you and me to the image of Christ. We therefore move into social settings with the unconditional acceptance, delight, favor, and blessing of Jesus that we reflect to others. Do you know older people who do this? Do you know people who, no matter what you’ve done or how bad it’s been, somehow make you feel so good about yourself when you are with them? That somehow, they believe the best about you? I wish more and more to be the one declaring over others a hearty “Well done!” We spread the love and good cheer of the Savior we know loves us and invites us into that blessed dependence.