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On the Side - December2015

Live It Like You Love It
By Shelly Wyrick

Last week my mom texted me, asking to use my shower. My nice and hot shower, in my warm and cozy bathroom.  
We recently endured an epic windstorm that left us without power or water, for two days. In November. With a four month old. And three other kids. And no flushing toilet. 
Super fun times.
When the lights came back on, I could see the house was a pit. But many in our city, even as I write this nine days post-storm, still do not have power. And so rather than pick up the mess, I fretted for those in the dark and tried to help where I could.
Thus the text from my mom. She was without power and in need of a shower. Of course she could shower at my house.
But my shower? Well my shower was pretty gross. So, I raced into the bathroom with my 4-0-9 and scrub brush. You’ll need more details to really depreciate me. My shower has little ventilation. I don’t know why, I didn’t build it. But it is a 10-foot tall tiled stall, which is lovely until you go to clean it and risk annihilating your lungs because there is no airflow, not even a fan. Given more time, I could have figured out a way to gracefully fix the problem, but in this rush, I found myself haphazardly scrubbing-scrubbing-scrubbing for as long as I could hold my breath. When I couldn’t hold it anymore, I’d scramble out to gasp for air. Then inhale big and pop back in to frantically scrub. Over and over. Until it was adequate for my mother. I know, I was behaving a bit nutty. But people do nutty things when their power and water have been off for two days.
In the midst of a relatively simple task, I became frantic. And flustered. And fatigued.
Its December, and December is like my shower stall.  There are approximately 300 million things I feel the need to accomplish before December 25 in order to rock the Yuletide season. This leaves me frantic, flustered, and fatigued. Just like the shower stall ordeal.
I say ‘yes’ to many of the Christmas activities because I’ve said yes to them in previous years, because the people I love have said yes to them, or because it’s too awkward to say no. As a result, December becomes less about the story of a Babe in a manger, and more about accomplishing my list of Christmas to-do’s, a list that sucks the love right out of the most important story of all time.  My love-reserve gets siphoned because I’ve planned too many activities. I end up frantic. I end up flustered. I end up fatigued.
I recently read Lysa Terkerst’s book, The Best Yes, where she writes, “My attitude of love must be fiercely guarded when considering adding activities. My attitude of love must not be sacrificed on the altar of activity.”  Why? Because, according to Lysa and God’s word itself, we are bankrupt without love. In 2 Corinthians 13:2 we read, “So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”
 I’m bankrupt without love.
This year I am actively guarding my to-do list so that it remains doable. Not just doable – doable in a way that reflects God’s love. Because if I can’t do it with an attitude of love, I might as well not do it at all. If I can’t do it in love, then I’m wasting my time. My goal this Christmas season is to do less in love. Accomplish fewer things so that God’s love can flow through me into the remains of my commitments.
I plan to live it like I love it.
This means no Santa-Carousel night for the kids, it means no Nutcracker Ballet or or Disney-on-Ice. My kids will survive, I think. If you’re reading this as the wife of a medical student, or the wife of a resident, I know these activities aren’t on your list, because they actually cost money. Money you don’t have. I know that too. I’ve been married 15 years and my husband spent the first 11 in medical school and residency. 
I remember Christmas being stressful in a different way: it was awkward for me to come home and be given awesome gifts while I had very little to give in return. For example, I once wanted to buy my nephew a really big stuffed toy. Instead, I hand stitched a moose out of scrap fabric. I didn’t even bother buying a pattern. When I tied the knot on the final stitch and held it up, the antlers flopped right over the eyes. Bummer. But, I figured my nephew was young and probably wouldn’t complain, so I went ahead and gave it to him.  And you know what?  That nephew is now 15 years old, and I can’t tell you what I’ve given him for any other Christmas. But I remember the moose. Why?  Because there was so much stinkin’ love stitched into that toy that it nearly burst. It’s not the size of the gift, it’s the love in it that matters.  And it’s not the number of activities; it’s the love in them that matters. 
I’m going into this month looking for ways to opt-out so that I can opt-in to living in love. Christmas is too important to be made into a toxic shower stall where I suffocate myself with expectations. I’m looking for ways to pare down, roll back, and free up my schedule so that I can live it like I love it. I hope you will join me.

Shelly is a physical therapist turned play-at-home-mom.  She has always thought people with four kids are crazy. On July 11, 2015 she fell madly in love with that brand of crazy. Shelly also adores her old fashioned manly-man of a husband, coffee and Jesus. 

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