When I think back to my childhood during the Christmas season, there is one tradition that stands out among any others. An event that brought a real thrill of hope, a longing, a desire, and ultimately, rejoicing. That event was “Going through the Toy Catalog.”
I loved the moment we received the toy catalog in the mail. Shiny pages displaying a wider array of toys than I ever could possibly imagine owning, item numbers, prices, and descriptions informing me just what I needed to ask Santa for that Christmas.
Now, I figured out the Santa game pretty early on, but I had two sets of grandparents who always managed to pull through at Christmas in pretty magical ways. Though my dad worked as a pastor and didn’t make much money, I also knew he and my mom did whatever they could every year to get me something from my top 5 list.
The thrill of looking through those pages, circling items, listing them on a separate page, envisioning them in my head before I drifted off to sleep. . . it created something for me. A deep yearning surfaced–one that in my childish imaginings I wasn’t able to verbalize–but one that enveloped me in something deeper: The idea that IF I really got what I wanted for Christmas, I’d be complete. IF I got what I asked for, I’d be cooler than when I didn’t have it. IF I really got what I wanted for Christmas, I’d be really truly satisfied.
However, what happened on Christmas Day at around 2 pm, every year? I finished playing with my new things, maybe I even organized them in my room and arranged space for them in their new home. I ate most of the candy in my stocking, but what was left? Emptiness. The reality that I got what I wanted, yet I was still the same old me.
This trend continues in my adulthood. Not with toy catalogs, but with People Style Watch (the “must-have styles for fall” call to me every time). With the newest fitness program. With the newest diet plan. I find in myself the same yearning to get something in order to become something better. Sure, maybe I’ll be more confident for a hot minute (the right shapewear really does work wonders). But it never lasts. It never brings me the satisfaction I truly desire. My favorite C.S. Lewis quote is, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
The right gifts never satisfied me. New clothes never satisfy me. Workout plans never satisfy me. Diets never satisfy me. The right lipstick color never satisfies me. My husband, my kids, my job (all which I love very very much) will never completely satisfy me. My thirst can only be quenched by Jesus.
The Samaritan woman at the well got it in John 4. Jesus made it very clear that drinking the well water would make her thirsty again. Searching for significance in the things of this world always do. I can stop dieting, stop weighing, stop looking at magazines, yet that desire to find that One Lasting Fix here on earth is always present. That’s why Jesus said in John 4:14, “But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
HE is the source of eternal satisfaction. It is so easy to get wrapped up in everything else and forget that my identity, my desires, my longings, can all be found in Him alone. That is the ultimate gift, the most perfect gift for ANY time of the year.
Erin Kerry is wife to Richard and “mama” to Isabel, Roman and baby Rhett. She worked as an English teacher and ESL Department Head for a middle school in Plano, Texas before going full time as a SAHM and ambassador for Plexus Worldwide. She loves bingeing on Netflix with her husband, playing games with her kids, getting sucked into a good book, running races (slowly), discovering unique craft beers, and trying out new Mexican restaurants. Read Erin’s posts here.