The Imperfectly Perfect in Our Christmas


We do Christmas big. Not perfect, because that’s irrational. But this season has definitely become, for us, the most wonderful time of the year. All month long we are busy decorating (or as my 5 year old says, “duckorating”), baking, finding ways to think of others, and intentionally rejoicing in each other and the gifts we have received because of Christ.  We take time to make time, because we have every reason to. It is a month and a season we delight to end our year with.

Sometimes though, if I’m not careful, I can get caught up in making everything look just right. I’ve given up on perfect, but there is still an “ideal” which I can tend to aim for. I’m not the greatest decorator, but I don’t like messy or cluttered, and so I set out to create an atmosphere that is warm, inviting, and fun. And I’m not the most organized, but I start with my lists and make a good attempt at keeping things in some kind of reasonable order. And somewhere in my Christmas dreams, this is how everything plays out each Christmas…until my children wake up!

My kids LOVE decorating.  They love baking. They love picking out gifts for people and they especially love wrapping them. This means, of course, that all my vision and order and plans get tangled up and messy. The tree never looks like the one I saw in my mind’s eye when picking it out. The presents are crumpled and sometimes torn, and the bows and ribbons are crooked (if there are any). And the shopping…well, I’ve learned to trust the old adage, “It’s the thought that counts,” while I compliment the gifts with a smile that says the rest.

Looking back on each Christmas season, I have always had a good laugh and a deep sense of fulfillment in it all. And I think it’s because it is a humbling and truthful reminder of the first Christmas, and all of God’s ways.  Lord knows I’ve learned by now that His ways are different from mine, but somehow I still unconsciously expect His ways to look grander…to come with more visible perfection. I still look for the seamless, when He so often works through the patched and the messy.

As beautiful as our nativity scenes have become, portraying that first Christmas with all the glory our finite minds can imagine, the reality is that Jesus was born in a stable – a dirty, smelly, uncomfortable barn. He didn’t choose to come to a house with lights and a tree, a heater and the smell of fresh baked cookies. The scene of His grand entrance was a messy and vulnerable one. It was so imperfect for a God-King, in my opinion. But it was the perfect way to announce Good News to an imperfect world. It was the perfect way to reassure us that we are free to come as we are; that – as much as we like to dress everything up – we don’t need to.

Christmas has been dressed up through the centuries to reflect a perfection that seems to grow more and more expensive every year.  Yet the greatest gift we have ever received – God with us, constant in His love and commitment, faithful to bring us into all He has promised – was a free gift in a very imperfect package. And sometimes I think, because we are busy looking for or trying to create the perfect, we can miss the reality that He comes in the messy. We can forget that Christmas, with all of its lights and sounds and joyously grand aims at celebration, is really about the beauty wrapped up in the imperfect.  It’s about the very real and very vulnerable small things. God came, not as a man of might, but as a baby that had to be held and nurtured and raised…and whose diapers needed to be changed at likely the most inconvenient times (I can just imagine the wise men worshipping as baby Jesus made a mess in his manger!).

It moves my soul to wonder, as I stare at my cluttered Christmas tree and the disheveled packages scattered all about. This is Christmas – real life with real people whom I able to love, because He loved us enough to come and interrupt our messy lives with a vision of the glory in the midst of it all. This is Christmas – gloriously imperfect and full of promise!

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, take a deep breath today and get a fresh perspective on the imperfect in your Christmas. Jesus is there…in the messy, in the complicated, in the disappointing. And there is for you an opportunity to encounter His perfect love right where you are. May the rest of your Christmas bring you into an uncomplicated sense of wonder, and may your celebration be simplified with the understanding that – all outward trappings side – God is with you. And He delights to be the center of your heart and home this holiday season.

{Photo images courtesy of}


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