I’m Feeling The Christmas Pressure

It must be time to put up the Christmas lights; I’m feeling the pressure.

Today I’m watching Lily decorate our upstairs Christmas tree. That’s right, we have an upstairs and a downstairs Christmas tree.

The upstairs one is hers. She decides what goes on it, and she does all the work. The downstairs tree is sort of the family’s tree; it has home-made decorations that we have given each other over the years.

Lily pretty much … well, actually completely puts that one up, too.

My line is that she takes care of the inside and I do the outside.

Just watching her do her thing puts the pressure on me to get moving with the outside lights.

But that’s not the only place from which I’m being pressured to get my task done.

There are several neighbours who already have their lights up. And when I drive down the next street, the homes there seem very much into the Christmas spirit.

About seven years ago I started thinking that people were putting more effort into Halloween decorations than they were Christmas. Now I think people are putting the same effort into decorating for Christmas as they do for Halloween.

For generations Christmas lights have basically been the same. You figured out a pattern of lights that worked on your house and you put them up every year. The only thing that you changed was the bulbs when they burned out.

Now there’s way more stuff!

They have big blow-up Christmas characters – I’m not talking about the baby Jesus and wise men; I’m talking about Frosty and Santa. Some of these blow-ups are as tall as a house!

There are also elaborate laser light shows that change rapidly and cover the whole front of a house.

It’s a big deal! And it seems that every year it’s getting to be an even bigger deal.

Not for me though. I’m old school; I have my pattern of how the lights go up and I just repeat that every year. I’m not trying to add anything new. I just hope that I can find the same eavestrough hooks I used last year.

What’s got me feeling the pressure to get my lights up today is that so many of my neighbours have their lights up, but I’m the Christian guy.

I’m the one who is really supposed to be into Christmas and I feel like not having my lights up yet is saying to them all that I don’t care as much as I should.

There is one other pressure and that’s the weather. It’s a nice day out there today – a balmy 8° Celsius (46 Fahrenheit). The chances that it will stay this warm for much longer are slim.

So between my wife, the neighbourhood, my perceived neighbours’ expectations of me and the weather, today’s the day when the lights go up.

I’m feeling the pressure.

Here’s the thing:  We feel pressure to do outward things, but do we feel pressure to do inward things? It’s hard not to give in to what we see in the world around us or what others are doing. But are you compelled in the same way to respond to what God wants you to do? The pressure to do outward things like put up the lights comes from within; we pressure ourselves. We should put that kind of pressure on ourselves to respond in obedience to what God wants us to do. Faith without obedience is not much good at all.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What should you put pressure on yourself to be doing? Leave your comments below.

That Project Left Me Feeling Incompetent

The project I worked on yesterday left me feeling fairly incompetent, until I watched a program that changed my mind altogether.

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I was replacing some wall sconces at our cottage … we had four, all the same, but Lily decided she wanted some more modern-looking ones.

She found the perfect fixtures and, a few weeks ago, I had the task of changing them.

The amazing thing was I didn’t get electrocuted!

Unfortunately, the new fixtures didn’t fit very well. I tried to modify the attachment plates but they still didn’t fit snugly to the wall. They didn’t look quite right but I ran out of time and left them.

Yesterday I took another stab at it, trying to find a better solution. I was just about to drill a couple of new holes to make it work, when I got another idea.

This idea involved a hacksaw and cutting through a metal plate.

Now, in the past I’ve had some issues with saws of various kinds. There was the time I was trimming off the bottom of a door and I made a nice starter cut at the base of my first finger on my left hand.

That manoeuvre sent me directly to the hospital. The doctors were amazed I didn’t cut a nerve. That finger still feels a little funny to the touch, however.

It wasn’t more than about six months later that I was trimming a panel for a sliding door in our basement. I was using a utility knife to slice the fine board, only I got slightly off course and sliced into myself.

And you can guess, it was my first finger on my left hand. This time it was at the top of the finger.

Well, that was all in the past because this time I didn’t cut anything … well, except the metal plates.

My problem this time was I kept doing things out of order and then would need to take everything all apart to put in a couple of forgotten screws or to trim some insulation.

I had four sconces and it wasn’t until the fourth one that I was able to do things in the right order without having to attach and unattach it from the wall two or three times.

Oh yah, I was able to complete the job unscathed but I still felt like never doing a home project again. I made so many mistakes, the time it took wasn’t worth it.

Feeling like I was done with home repairs from now on, I settled down to relax. Lily was watching some reality TV home show where contestants had to compete against each other, doing things on a construction site like manoeuvring a wheel barrel, hammering nails, painting panels.

After watching how pathetic those people were at doing their tasks, I was feeling like a professional!

I looked over at the wall to see my handiwork and thought the job looked great. I immediately forgot about my frustration and thought I could take on another project some time.

… Well, we’ll see.

Here’s the thing: When you find that sin has tripped you up, maybe for the umpteenth time, and you’re feeling pretty bad about it, with self talk like, “What’s the matter with me?”, remind yourself how God sees you. He does not see you as a failure who falls to sin; He sees you as a son or daughter whom He loves and picks back up after you fall down.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How do you rebound from being down on yourself? Leave your comments below.