You managed to squeeze into your okay-est jeans and a festive top. It’s a Christmas Party after all. You’ve got to look the part.
But, who greets you at the door? Well, if it isn’t Miss Perfect. The “Hostess with the Most-est” in a form fitting red dress that shows off her svelte size two figure. Her Christmas manicured hands (do they charge extra for the gold glitter?) point you towards the kitchen. You haven’t looked at your hands in weeks. You contemplate leaving your gloves on.
Then you see the food table. All those desserts. Gracious. They are calling to you–sweetly singing of their calorie-laden goodness. You fein interest in a conversation conveniently happening in front of the chocolate fondue. You grab a tooth picked banana slice to join in the fun. Dip and smile. Dip and smile.
Are we having fun yet?
Is this what Christmas is all about? Beautiful buffets, festive fingernails, and “hot” holiday attire? Christmas can be a season where our biggest fears of inadequacy flare–where all that insecurity, already simmering inside, reaches a boil that bubbles over inside your heart.
How do you keep comparison from stealing your holiday joy? What do you do when holiday parties make you feel like you don’t fit in? I hope you’ll keep reading.
I’m a Misfit, Too
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the circa 1960s cartoon, shows us a reindeer with a freakish bright red nose who teams with Yukon Cornelias and an elf who wants to be a dentist (not a toymaker) to find a place where they feel accepted, quirks and all. Where do they end up? They land at the Island of Misfit Toys–a place where there’s a Charlie in the Box (instead of a Jack) and a variety of other toys who have been ostracized to a land where everyone is a misfit. Rudolph gets excited when he hears where they are. Obviously, they’ve found their people.
Friend, if you’ve ever felt like you just don’t fit in at holiday parties–or other places, I have a secret to share. We all feel that way. We’re all on a search for our people. And, more times than not, it takes effort–great effort–to have true friends.
But, we’re all on the Island of Misfit Toys. We all battle feelings like we don’t fit in. Perhaps we try our best to look the part, talk the part, act like we are the same so that we can be more easily accepted. And, yet, in our hearts, sometimes we just feel like we’re different. We stuff down, deep, those parts. In some cases we mask qualities and unique gifts which define us and make us who we are. This feels suffocating. Joy-killing. Debilitating.
So how do you cope when you feel like you don’t fit in? What’s the best way to keep comparison from stealing your joy at Christmas time?
Here are three ideas:
First: Remember that Everyone Feels Like a Misfit Sometimes
When I feel like I don’t fit in, one practice I’ve adopted is looking for the least comfortable person in the room and striking up a conversation. Through reaching out to someone else, I’ve found ways to make sure we’re both included. If you’re at a Christmas party, look around towards the corners–see who is staring at her phone or standing alone with uncertainty. Make a new friend if you don’t know her. Recognize that if–in the midst of your discomfort–you can offer someone else comfort, you will indeed grow in your ability to truly love people as Jesus commands.
I’ve been a pastor’s wife for almost a decade now. People assume that it’s easy for me. Yes, I can talk anyone’s ear off and yes, especially in church circles, it would be odd for anyone to have a “Why are you here?” posture towards me. And, yet, church events have been some of my most challenging. I prefer to host rather than attend them, so at least I can stay busy arranging the vegetable Christmas tree or refilling the punch.
The enemy doesn’t want God’s women connected to each other. He wants to keep us separated–be it through whispering or careless female intimidation. A bigger secret to remember: even “Miss Perfect” battles feelings like she doesn’t fit in–otherwise she wouldn’t be trying so hard.
This is why it’s so important that we not make it everyone else’s responsibility to include us. Rather we should make it our mission to include others. When we approach events with a heart postured to ask, “Who can I make feel included?” it takes others off trial. We’re no longer waiting to see how they will treat us and then judge them accordingly. Instead, we are there for what we can give, not what we can get.
Isn’t that what the holidays are supposed to be about anyway?
Second: Remember that Jesus Gets It
No one knew what to do with Jesus. People wanted to kill him (and tried). He had to run away from even his family. He didn’t fully fit in with the Jewish Rabbis, yet he stood apart as a teacher and leader among the common people. His best friends–his disciples–were with him round the clock and still couldn’t figure out what he was doing and why. Jesus was a misfit. And that’s why he understands us.
In this truth we can rest. We must embrace the reality of how much He loves us, just as we are. He knows exactly how he made us and what gifts and talents he gave us–even when no one else in the room does. Jesus’ love extends deeper and truer than the love of any person on this planet. If our confidence is derived from His love, rather than winning acceptance from our peers, it gives us a confidence that can’t be shaken–even if the “popular” girls ignore you.
Third: Remember that Christmas isn’t a Contest
The holidays can exacerbate misfit feelings. Sometimes it’s that we fall prey to consumerism’s lie that we “need” all this stuff in order to really enjoy Christmas. Or, we falsely believe we would have a better holiday season with a custom made wreath on the door and Christmas trees manicured onto our fingernails.
I’ve spent hours of my life (that I’ll never get back) worrying about whether or not my Christmas tree is too short. (It is too short by the way, it’s kind of ridiculous, but so is worrying about that.) I doubt my decorating skills. I know it will be miraculous if anything I bake turns out to look like it does on Pinterest.
Then there’s my appearance. (Ugh. The holidays are not the most wonderful time of the year for my body image.) I tell myself that I’m just preparing to play Mrs. Clause on demand.
But, all these judgements, these assessments of ways that I’m not measuring up at Christmas time–they’re all just comparisons. My house wasn’t decorated by Joanna Gaines. My cookies not baked by Martha Stewart. And my body, obviously, not trained by Jillian Michaels.
And that’s okay.
We don’t need things to be perfect to enjoy Christmas. Rather, we can be free to embrace Christmas, as it looks for us this year, by turning our focus outward, instead of inward. If we make our focus on the worship of Jesus instead of looking for applause for our perfectly set table or admiration for our impeccably decorated tree, we are liberated to truly celebrate the reason for the season.