My friend Amy is always coming up with great comebacks or observations. Recently while discussing some of our mutual frustrations with the way people think about how to “do church” she remarked something to the effect of “We are after all Human Beings, not Human Doings.”
In the Christmas season it seems easier than ever to exist as a Human Doing instead of a Human Being . And all of us – Type A’s and B’s alike – get very wrapped up our identities as either Success’ or Failures in regards to all the Doings to be had.
Either you love the holidays because you excel at Checking Things Off List, Buying Perfect Presents and Speed Baking or you hate the holidays because your Bows Are Less Than Perfect and You Never Get All Your Cards Addressed. Either way you are centered on your performance and how you feel about it. And that’s not really the point of Christmas is it?
On Saturday our very sleep deprived family attempted some holiday merriment by baking. Let me state for the record that you can not bake and fully involve your children and expect the cookies to turn out perfect looking and glorious. You cannot foster creativity in your children and then tell them exactly where you think they should put the sprinkles. You cannot expect to make Martha proud. But hopefully you can make a sweet memory that will somehow absorb into their little hearts and souls and create some joy in their holy space. After all we are Human Beings not Human Doings.
When I was 9 my family moved to Florida. My parents bought their first house and within months of moving-in my Mother did one of the smartest things I have ever heard of. She took up all the carpets in our rooms and exposed the industrial strength (think school house) tile underneath. Why did she do this to her new house you wonder? Because we kids liked to craft and color and glue and cut and she decided it would be much easier to wipe glue off off that tile than cut it out of the carpet. To her, our creating was more important than her having a magazine-perfect house. She would rather we create in our rooms than be worried about them. Childhood is not the time for worry and she has always understood that better than anyone.
This week is the week on the advent wreath between the candles Joy and Love. I hope that this season, and this week, and this lifetime I can teach my children to embrace Joy and Love and to share it. To not give over to Worry and Perfecting and Striving. To not feel shame for what they are not, but instead to celebrate who they are and who others are. That they understand what it means to be a Human Being and not a Human Doing.