Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What I Learned From Failing at Advent

What I Learned from Failing at Advent -- I should've known that our first-ever effort at doing a daily Advent devotional would fail miserably. I learned something, anyway.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The ubiquitous Advent calendar has never really been a thing in our family. We've got plenty of traditions we like to do during the month leading up to Christmas, but never a structured every-single-day-of-December undertaking.

As a perfectionist just barely passing in good society as "normal," I think I always knew deep down I just couldn't handle that kind of commitment.

Because for someone like me, embarking on a daily obligation for an entire month at the busiest time of the whole year would almost certainly end in a flaming disaster of Hindenburg-like proportions.

If you're not a perfectionist or you don't know one closely, this is what we're like:
  1. We're fine with passing on opportunities if we know we can't do them well; in fact, we prefer it. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.
  2. And by "right," I mean perfectly.
  3. Massive amounts of stress happen when we've committed (even if only in our minds) to doing something and it doesn't go well.
  4. And by "well," I mean perfectly.

I wasn't ignorant of these 4 facts when I was given a free copy of the Names of Christ Advent Devotional, but I jumped at the chance to use it anyway because I'm always looking for ways to get my kids engaged in learning about Jesus (especially at Christmas.) And my favorite price is free.

Needless to say, we haven't been terribly consistent. I seemed to have forgotten when we started this on December 1st that we also have a life, with soccer practices and school activities and social events and playdates and nights when everyone in the family isn't even home at the same time. Frequently.

It's not very surprising then, that we are woefully behind.

In fact, if you used our progress on the devotional to guess which day it is, today would be the 15th. Which is bad because it's actually the 23rd.

Normally, this would send me into a perfectionist-induced breakdown whereupon I conclude my entire life is a shambles. End scene.

But by some Christmas miracle, it hasn't.

I've watched my kids decorating the themed ornaments that come with the Advent devotional and noticed something. They're enjoying themselves. They're learning. We may not be the most on-top-of-it family in the whole world, but we're a real family and we're doing our best.

The fact that we're doing it at all is more important than the fact that we're doing it imperfectly.

Anyway, who says you can't be learning about Jesus and coloring Christmas ornaments on December 31st? Because we will be.

Merry Christmas, even if you haven't done everything like you wanted to this month. Peace on earth, and especially in your home and in your mind  even if you're a perfectionist like me.

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Unknown said...

Ah Jenny that lesson about embracing failure is one that I am dying to learn because that's what it is, isn't it? Fear of failure stopping us from trying new things which we might actually really benefit from even if it all goes a bit pear shaped. I still love the story of the guy who set himself a "failure challenge" admittedly his was around meeting people, talking to strangers etc. but he gave himself a mental attitude adjustment so that he could actually view his failures as successes. I'm going to attempt to give it a try in 2016 😃 have a lovely Christmas celebration with your family Xxx

normaleverydaylife said...

I laughed at your descriptions of perfectionists. I haven't done an advent calendar in years and now I know why! :)

Jenny Evans said...

That sounds like something I could definitely learn from! I'll have to look up this guy and more about his story.

Unknown said...

Not a perfectionist. I think I got out the advent calendar around the 6th, (bonus to this is that every kid got to take a turn putting on a piece the first day!) I had to make the annual proclamation of who was going to get to put on Baby Jesus and then let them count backwards to make that happen. After that I guess my 12 year old managed to keep them all in line on whose turn it was and what not. I didn't really pay attention.

Jenny Evans said...

Way to turn a negative into a positive on starting late, and I love having older kids who like to help out!

PurpleSlob said...

You can probably already guess, I'm not a perfectionist!
But yay for you learning, and growing! And appreciating the real truth- focusing on Christ is what's most important!