Christmas is in a mere 18 days, and I realized this weekend that I've not been doing so hot at remembering its real meaning. Or any meaning, for that matter. Amid the hustle and bustle of gift buying, gift wrapping, gift hunting, and gift demanding, I've been pretty selfish, giving most of my attention to what I don't have and how I feel like I don't measure up. As you might expect, that doesn't leave much room for Christmas cheer.
The truth is that finding the purpose of Christmas takes effort on our parts every single year, and it takes us forgetting about ourselves, which can be hard. At a time when the world distracts us with so many superficial and surface things, we may not know how to internalize the birth of our Savior in a way that brings us true peace, happiness, and the ability to overcome the distractions of the holiday. With a little conscious effort and focus, however, I think it's possible.
We all know the popular carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas," a song all about gift giving. This Christmas I'm challenging myself (and you) to give some gifts, too. Not seven swimming swans or the latest iPhone, but gifts of discipleship that will prepare you, me, and others to celebrate Christmas the right way. In the process, each of us will become a little more Christlike, too.
Are you ready? Here's the challenge:
Starting on Sunday, December 14th, 2014 and leading right up to Christmas, I'm going to do something every day to be more like a disciple of Jesus Christ. Obviously, discipleship extends beyond twelve days, but twelve days is a good start and a great way to actively become who our Heavenly Father wants us to become.
I've compiled a list of things that I want to do this Christmas to become a better disciple. A lot of these are general, and some of these are more personal. You can write up and use your own list if you'd like to, but this one is free for you to use, too.
1. Write a kind letter to someone you are grateful for.
2. Spend a day magnifying your calling--you could do a little more, organize yourself, or study examples of people who have magnified that same calling.
3. Share your testimony of the Savior with someone (online or offline).
4. Prayerfully seek someone who is having a hard time or is lonely and take the time to visit them.
5. Donate money, coats, food, or some other kind of possession to a charity/person in need this time of the year (see Sub for Santa, Food Pantry, etc.).
6. When you visit a store, take the time to talk with an employee helping you and thank them by name.
7. Reconnect with someone you haven't talked to in awhile--one of the few blessings of Facebook.
8. Take a night (or multiple nights) to study the Savior. You can find amazing content on lds.org, or you can read books like Jesus the Christ or The Infintie Atonement. Or simply dedicate your scripture study to him.
9. Attend the temple. Do baptisms, endowments, sealings, or initiatories.
10. Give of your time and physical abilities to help someone who is in need of assistance (shoveling walks, cooking food, cleaning their homes, lifting something heavy, getting to and from someplace, etc.) Use prayer to find them.
11. Think of one of your most overwhelming weaknesses--it could be lack of patience, anger, beating yourself up, selfishness, etc.--and take a day where you focus on strengthening that one weakness. Obviously, a day is not enough to make a weakness a strength, but it's a start to actively acknowledge it and begin to change. Try focusing on that weakness throughout the experience and beyond it.
12. Take a day where you find some way to compliment everybody you interact with.
Obviously, work and life restraints don't really allow for me or you to do these things in exact order, so instead of creating a solid schedule, just look at what you can do each day and scratch it out when you've completed it. You'll probably find that most of these things you can do daily, and that's fantastic! Try it. See how it goes.
I'll keep you posted on how my 12 Days of Discipleship went at the end, and feel free to let me know how the experience goes for you.
This Christmas we can all do something to be a little more Christlike. Let's do it. Let's share the gift.
You can participate in this event on your own or join the Facebook event page.