Christ And My Traditions.
I’m sitting at our dining table, thinking about tradition. I love tradition, especially this time of year. Growing up I loved all of my family’s traditions. Decorating the tree as a family, watching Hallmark movies, doing the Jesse Tree advent, having sausage crescent rolls on Christmas morning, and spending time with grandparents is what made those special days feel like Christmas. In our five married Christmases, Josh and I have been working towards creating our own traditions and that has been exciting. Since becoming parents, traditions have become even more important to me. I want my family to be deeply rooted in tradition. In my children’s short lives we have lived a pretty transitional life, making it difficult to feel rooted in anything, especially tradition. I can let myself get upset over traditions, or I can let God show me the true importance of traditions and how to keep them in their rightful place.
Traditions are NOT perfectly executed plans.
In my current life-stage with three very small children, an exciting ministry, and an active church community, my plans rarely go how I would like them. For example, trying to get out the door for the Sunday before Christmas service, my potty-training two year old releases her bladder all over the dining room as I feed the baby. Thankful for Daddy to the rescue! We ended up being half an hour late and missed singing my favorite Christmas carols. We did make it in time for the special Christmas skit for the kids, so I took it as a win.
The success of a tradition is not determined by how closely the outcome adheres to my predetermined ideals. Rather, it is determined by the attitude of my heart. I ask my girls multiple times a day to choose a joyful heart rather than whining, yet when my perfectionistic ideals are not met I do not follow my own advice. My family will not remember how well my cookies turned out. They will remember my frustration as they stick their fingers in the dough yet again. If I want traditions to foster our sense of family unity, I have to let go of my non-existent perfect plan.
Traditions Serve You, You Don’t Serve Traditions
Traditions are meant to be a tool. A tool your family can use for a far grander purpose. The builder doesn’t bend to the will of his tools, making sure to always use the tool in the exact same manner at the exact same time. Instead, the builder uses a variety of tools many different ways in order to create the final work of art. That is how families should use traditions. Traditions are a part of our God-given family toolbox, equipping us to build a beautiful bond of Christ-centered family unity. When I let my priorities get out of whack and start putting the tradition in a spot of authority, the beauty of my picture is tainted.
Traditions Have an Eternal Purpose
I want to be careful not to minimize the importance of traditions. As I already stated I love traditions and think they serve a beautiful purpose. The danger comes when we take our eyes off that purpose.
I believe God designed tradition. A huge portion of the Pentateuch is about traditions that God set in place for His chosen people. Each tradition or festival served as a tool to point the people back to Christ. For example, the Passover is one of the most significant Jewish traditions and it was mandated by God himself. The yearly celebration of the Passover was to serve as a reminder of God’s almighty power as He spared the lives of those who had lamb’s blood painted above their door. It painted an eternal picture of the Blood of The Lamb that covers our hearts, sparing us from certain death. The Passover is only scratching the surface. So many tiny details in Jewish tradition point to the eternal promise of the Messiah King.
Which begs the questions…do my traditions serve the same purpose? Do my traditions point to the saving work of Jesus Christ who radically changes lives? Am I using traditions to the fullest by painting an eternally significant picture? That is what I want my kids to remember throughout the holidays. Not a stressed out momma whose only concern is sticking to plan. The choice is mine. Will I allow traditions to serve their rightful place or will I be ruled by perfectionism?