Monday, December 10, 2012

Imaginary Judges

Christmas tree, choinka 200512242008 ChristmasEve00028
It's the most craftiest time of the year (cue the swelling music).  There'll be trees for decorating, cookies for baking, wreaths for making, and cards to be delivered for all! Pinterest is ablaze with Christmas crafts! Are you looking forward to a season of fun?  Or are you buckling under the pressure? 
Sometimes I imagine that there are Christmas games.  We stand beside our Christmas tree and watch the judges hold up score cards based on difficulty, creativity, and skill.  We hand our plate of cupcakes over to the stern-faced table of critics to dissect our offering.  I say that tongue in cheek but the holidays are time when women often feel judged.  

Thinking about a Biblical example, I was really struck by Michal.  If it wasn't Christmas my title might be "How to Rain on a Worship Parade" or "Assault with Deadly Sarcasm."  Watch out, next year, I just might write one of those up!  But with the holiday and all its stress just around the corner, I couldn't resist the urge to talk about all her imaginary judges.

David finally brings the ark back into Jerusalem.  He comes in, stripped down to his undershirt, dancing in the front of the parade. All of Israel is having a holiday; royal generosity has given meat, bread and raisins to every resident. The princess, full of pride, is looking out the window and sees him.  Her dignity is offended.  He's an embarrassment to her.  In the midst of the first great victory of his Kingship, he is blessing his household when out strolls Michal and says,   "How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!" (2 Samuel 6:20).  David spits back at her that those same maidservants will, in fact, hold him in high honor.

Let's slow down a minute.  Michal is the Daughter of the first king of Israel and wife of the second.  She is the prize won by her husband at the cost of a 100 Philistine foreskins. And she is afraid of the opinion of the servant girls? Michal has allowed her imaginary judges, people she doesn't admire or respect, to dictate how she feels about her husband's behavior.

Can you see the connection to the holidays, to the day to day life of women young and old?  We have a whole host of imaginary judges ourselves.  They judge our fashion sense, our interior decorating skills, our cooking.  They judge our children, our marriages and our social status.  They judge us at work, at church and more than any other place at home.  Who are they?

I don't mean that none of us are actually plagued with a real life Judge Judy.  I've known my fair share.  However, for every real critic out there, there are at least three imaginary ones in the wings.  We call them "they" or "everybody" and they begin to haunt us as children, back then our parents talked about "peer pressure." Now we just accept that if we don't have a Christmas tree worthy of Southern Living, if we aren't putting a holiday spread on the table that would make Martha Stewart blush, and if we don't have the loveliest family in matching outfits on the front of our Christmas card, that somebody out there will smugly shake their head.

What was the result of Michal's fear?  She was childless to the end of her days.  It's unclear the exact reason, but I bet it's no coincidence that this sentence comes at the end of this story.  My guess is that she wasn't invited back to David's bed.  I doubt any of us will destroy our marriage in the midst of holiday stress; however, we certainly can take all of the fun out of it.

Want an example?  In my parents attic, beside the tangled lights and behind the artificial tree is a paper wreath.  The year we left to go abroad, my then 4 year old daughter and I cut all these little pictures out of the Christmas cards sent to my parents, and we glued them on to a paper circle.  It has hung on my parents door every Christmas for the last 7 years.

My sister and my sister-in law could take ten dollars to Hobby Lobby and make a wreath worthy of the front door of the White House. They are awesome in ways I am not.
I love them both.  And I am not going to do them the disservice of imagining that they are giggling behind their hands at me.  I can't worry too much that the cheesy little wreath looks like something that should have been on a Charlie Brown Christmas special. I am just going to treasure the memory of making it with my girl, and appreciate the fact that my parents are proud to hang it up.  If I let myself be slowed by comparing myself and my pitiful efforts to others, I'd miss out.

Do your holiday in whatever way works for you!  Buy your cookies at Kroger and then eat them instead of a holiday dinner.  Doesn't hurt my feelings!  Skip the Christmas tree and have a Christmas fern instead.  That's cool!  If Christmas in your family means a quick jaunt to a warmer clime, more power to you!  Don't be Michal. Silence the imaginary voices.  Only worry about the Judge of the living and the dead and remember no one judges His servants but Him (2 Timothy 4:1 and Romans 14:4).

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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