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.

You Need An Outlet In Your Life (part 2)

In my last post (you can read it here) I talked about how we need outlets in our lives for when we find ourselves in times of sustained pressure or burdens of some kind.

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But having one outlet isn’t enough; it will never fit all times and situations. You need several outlets.

In a home, we have many outlets in each room because we need the options. We need several outlets because usually at least one is obstructed, behind a couch or a dresser, not accessible.

With regard to outlets in your life, you need several for the variety of situations that come up.

I have a few outlets that I use at different times. One of my main outlets is sports.

But I can’t use the same one all the time. I can’t mountain bike in the winter or when it’s raining out; I can’t play hockey very much in the summer.

So I need other outlets that I can turn to when one outlet won’t work.

What you need to do is sit down and figure out what an outlet would be for you. It needs to be something you really enjoy, something that is readily available.

For me I can play hockey at noon most days of the week throughout the winter. That gives me options that I can co-ordinate with my schedule.

Find something that you enjoy that has some options or flexibility to it. Alternatively, find something you enjoy and put it into your regular schedule.

Many of us think that enjoyment is something that comes after the work gets done, something that’s an option.

But in many of our lives, the work is never done so outlets are not an option if we want to stay healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Make a list of things you enjoy that you can do on your own, and things you enjoy that you can do with others.

If you’re someone who’s mainly focused on work, this will not be an easy step. Take some time; maybe you will have to discover or develop some things you enjoy doing.

Then you need to schedule them. Commit to using an outlet a few times a week, and slot it in to your schedule from week to week where it works best.

Or you join a class or team and just commit to that regular schedule.

Be cautious of only having outlets that only involve you. When the pressure is particularly great, it will be easy to bail out of it, since you’re not letting anyone else down if you do.

Sometimes the motivation isn’t there when it’s just something you are going to do by yourself. I’ve found it difficult in the last couple of weeks to hit the trails on my mountain bike. It seems to take a lot of extra effort to get going when it’s just me. I’ve backed out a few times lately.

Having that list and scheduling your outlets will really help keep you from being crushed under the pressure or burden of life and work.

Here’s the thing: Ask God for His help in finding an outlet and for the motivation to use an outlet when the pressure or burden seems too much. God is faithful and will help us at those times if we seek Him.

That’s Life!

Paul

You Need An Outlet In Your Life (part 1)

From time to time in life we need an outlet. I’m not talking about the electrical kind you find on the wall of your home about two feet above the baseboard.

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But let me use that analogy to talk about the type of outlet I am referring to …

What I mean is an outlet for the pressure, busyness, burden of life or work.

The church building I work at was built in three stages: in the 60’s, the 70’s, and the 90’s.

The contrast between the electrical service that was installed in the 60’s to what was installed in the 90’s is very evident.

In the old part of the building there are very few electrical wall outlets in the rooms and halls. … It’s a pain to find an outlet in a place you actually need to plug something into.

The thinking back then was you didn’t really need many electrical outlets. There just weren’t that many things you needed to plug into them.

In the new part of the building outlets must be placed about every four feet, and even then there are times that outlets are hidden behind something, making it hard to access them when you need to.

I think in our day and age, just like we have more outlets in our homes than older homes did, it is more of a necessity that we have outlets in our lives.

We need outlets that are readily available.

An outlet is something we can turn to to take the pressure off, or to eliminate the burden. It can be a distraction or a way of escape from the constant demands on us.

In hockey they call it the outlet pass when a defensemen has the puck behind his team’s net and has opposing players bearing down on him.

The outlet pass to an open winger alleviates the pressure and allows the team to escape out of their end zone and move the puck up the ice.

In the days we live in, where we are available virtually 24/7 because of cell phones, texts, and email, we need outlets.

It’s imperative that we are able to get out from under whatever seems to be constantly over us –  even if what’s over us is a collection of many things that mount up in our lives.

If we don’t have outlets we will eventually be crushed under the pressure, which can cause us to make significant mistakes, creating even more harm than the burden we are carrying.

There really is no one who is immune to this. There have been high profile, high capacity people as well as your average joes who have gone down because they didn’t have an outlet.

No one should think they are stronger than the pressure or burden. We all should know the signs that we are at a tipping point and should have an outlet to turn to when that time come.

In my next post (read here) I will talk about finding an outlet and how to use it.

Here’s the thing: There are many people who don’t have an outlet. They don’t even know what an outlet might look like for them. Ask God for an outlet that would be right for you. Seek His wisdom; He knows you best.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How is the burden or pressure in your life? Do you need an outlet? Leave your comments below.