We are on the brink of Christmas, I mean almost minutes away from the big day. Many people keep asking me if we are “ready.” The answer is of course, “No.” I would love to be one of those amazing people who have been prepped and ready for the big day for weeks, merely waiting in anticipation. I would love to say that.
Yet, instead this Christmas has been a hard one for my family. This has been one full of stress, financial struggles and desperation. I am trying to keep a focus on my Savior yet, to give complete disclosure…sometimes my heart has needed a readjustment. I realized this the other day while driving in my car when an ad came on the radio about taking the time to serve as a family in the season of giving. Before I knew it I was screaming at the radio about how all I ever do is serve and for just one moment I don’t want to. I crumpled into a ball and just whispered, “Lord, I need you.”
I look at my kids and keep thinking they deserve better this season. It’s not the lack of gifts from Mom and Dad under the tree that bother me. We have had beautiful times celebrating Advent, yet my usual gusto has not been in place. I have carried a tremendous amount of guilt that I wish we could just skip to December 26 and be done with it all. It has also given me a tremendous amount of compassion for the parents of my students this season. Some kids will wake up on Christmas morning to a house full of people, an amazing meal and heaps of presents under the tree. They will celebrate Jesus in some glorious way and will feel the warm love of all surround them. However, others will wake up at Mom’s while wishing they could also be with Dad, there will be no fancy meal, and it will feel cold and distant. Students will come back after their break, shrug their shoulders and say, “It was alright.” Their parents limped through the holiday and now breathe a sigh of relief that it is over.
Yes, the countdown clock for Christmas is almost at a close, but I wonder if there is still time to show parents how much they matter?
- Withhold Judgement
We ALL do it. We scrape the top layer of a person and then create an opinion of them. Avoid placing judgement based on a student’s perception of their parents or situation. Love the youth, empathize, and then remind them that Christ’s love that is bigger than anything else. Yet, remember the parent needs that love just as much. 99% of the time there is more to the heart and situation than what we see. My youngest has said a couple of times this season, “We never get anything.” Not true we have EVERYTHING we need, there just hasn’t been a lot of extras and she has compared our lives to friends who are talking about getting lots of presents this season. Remember to ask Christ to see with His eyes.
- Thank Them
How often do you thank a parent for the honor and privilege of being able to spend time with their children. I mean ALL parents, no matter who they are or how you feel about them. Even the parents that seem distant and non existent could say no to their children attending your group. Could you take the time to send a thank you note home to parents on January 1? If you can’t get to every family, what about delegating to some of your team? Be creative, how can you start this new year by letting ALL the parents know how much they matter. They need to hear it. Chances are their kids forget to tell them.
- Encourage Them As Much As You Can
As you look to the new year how can you make encouraging parents a priority? Communicate well about information they need, however, how can you keep telling them they matter in the lives of their kids? Yesterday, we ran into a pastor friend who has grown daughters. He told my husband, “I pretty much just wanted to live in my shed during the teen years because it was like World War 3 in my home.” This may sound silly, but to know that this pastor who we respect immensely struggled too in these tumultuous years helped tremendously. Sometimes, parents just need to hear that it’s going to be alright and that they matter.
You know what has ultimately helped me this season? Knowing we all need Jesus. These words from my favorite carol, “Oh, Holy Night,” sum it up perfectly:
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born
Maybe the best thing we can all do in these final seconds before Christmas is to remember we are all in need of this Savior. I think parents sometimes just need to hear we need Him the same way they do.
Thanks for loving students and parents!