Growing up, my brother and I were notorious for sneaking out of our rooms in the middle of the night to stealthily untape and retape the Christmas presents my mother had so thoughtfully wrapped for us. It was impossible to wait until Christmas day to find out which My Little Pony I was getting–Moondancer or Fluttershy. And heaven forbid that my brother wait and see if GI Joe would be living it up in the new year in a Battle Fortress or a Combat Tank.
In response, my mother schemed a unique gift labeling system. It wasn’t very successful in thwarting our late night present reconnaissance, but it became a popular family tradition nonetheless. Every year when gathering around the tree to open presents, we all stare at the pile trying to figure out what unique identifier marks our individual presents. Some past examples: a certain color bow, a particular style of wrapping paper, numbers or words hidden in the paper, solving a math problem to discover a special number, other family member’s labels on my gifts, etc.
It’s become a fun tradition that I look forward to, but it also is a small reminder of the unspoken labels I secretly or not so secretly wear at the holidays.
My family comes to holiday events mostly in pairs and, for many years now, I’ve been the single one. Sometimes I wonder if the cousins, who I only see at Christmas, speculate about my glaring lack of spouse. Or, even though my parents never say anything, do they silently question if I’ll ever come home with a ring? Surely narcissism gets the better of my thoughts, and they are all just glad I’m there.
Since I’m fairly certain no one is actually dwelling on my single status, that means it’s all in my head. No one else put those thoughts there. Those imaginary labels are coming from me. It would be nice if ripping off a silent label were as easy as ripping off a Band-aid.
I’d be lying if I said I’ve got this all figured out and perfected, but the Lord has been teaching me this year about getting my thoughts refocused. When I’ve attempted to be intentional about “taking every thought captive” (2 Cor. 10:5) and changing the way I think (Romans 12:2), I’ve discovered that the more my mind and heart are focused on Jesus the less and less other things matter–like if my family sits around and wonders why I’m still single.
So this year instead of a personal holiday pity party, my hope is that I don’t get so caught up in myself self-imposed label, but would “fix my eyes on Jesus” (Heb 12:2), and in the midst of the holiday noise, silently rip off the label.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
For the past 6 years, Taryn Freeze has served as the Director of Support Services at a faith-based non-profit organization. She’s madly in love with what she gets to do and still can’t believe she gets paid to help people and tell them about Jesus. When she was a kid, all she did was read; consequently, she was obsessed with going to the library. Taryn hates white condiments, collects Texas Rangers bobblehead dolls, and loves to scour antique shops. She has a goal of visiting every major league ballpark in America, but she’ll have to pull herself away from her Pinterest addiction in order to accomplish that goal. You can follow her on Twitter @tarynfreeze.
*Photo credit: D’Arcy Norman