What if We Were Actually Honest with Each Other in Our Christmas Letters?

I love Christmas.

I love the fancy lights, the ridiculous sweaters, and even the frigid weather up here in the Northwest.

Most of all though, I love seeing the joy, anticipation, and excitement on kid’s faces, which is probably why I hope to be a mall Santa when I retire. (You think I’m kidding. I’m not.)

But I’m not going to talk about any of that today.

Because today, I’m here to call you out on something:

We need to talk about your
annual Christmas letter.

Every year our inboxes are flooded with these letters sharing highlights from the previous year:

  • Billy made the honor roll for the 4th straight year.
  • Susie married her Ivy-League boyfriend at the Yacht Club!
  • We had the most wonderful family vacation to Paris!
  • Look at all these pictures of us smiling and living our perfect life!

If we’re being honest, most of us use these letters to paint a picture that our lives are perfect. In reality, we know they aren’t. Furthermore, when we read these letters from others, it’s tempting to compare our life to the life they’re putting on display, confirming our suspicion that ours is often not what we hoped it would be.

But what if we stopped comparing our outtakes to everyone else’s highlight reels?

Or, better yet:

What if we actually trusted
others with our real lives?

From my own personal experience, I can tell you this would change everything.

Why? Because allowing others to love you where you’re at is the first step to believing God loves you where you’re at.

But in order to do that, you need to actually let someone know what’s really going on in your life.

For reals.

I’m not saying you need to rewrite your Christmas letter to confess all your shortcomings and struggles to your entire mailing list. What I would suggest, is that we all need someone in our life whom we feel safe enough with to share not just our highlights, but our outtakes as well.

In other words, we need to stop hiding our junk.

We all need someone in our life
whom we feel safe enough with
to share not just our highlights,
but our outtakes as well.

So, in the spirit of “practice what you preach,” I give you the 2014 Belt of Truth Christmas Letter (Honest Edition):

Buddy the ElfDear Friends,

As I look back over 2014, I’m incredibly grateful for all the wonderful people in my life, and the amazing experiences I’ve been blessed with. I could easily fill this letter with highlights from last year: releasing my book to the wild, attending some amazing conferences, renting a bounce castle for my birthday…

Needless to say it’s been a great year.

But instead of focusing only on the external stuff, I’d like to let you know what’s going on in my heart as well:

  • For starters, I am not a patient person. I want my book to be selling better now. I want answers to all of my prayers now. I want the lady checking out in front of me to stop filling out that check and to use a debit card like the rest of the world. I don’t like to wait for anything, which is probably why God has me in a season of waiting at the moment.
  • On a related note, I’m trying to become okay with the fact that after six months, it appears the odds of me being the next Donald Miller, Randy Alcorn, or John Eldredge, are slim at best. I would love this message of freedom to reach thousands of men, but I also wonder if that is what’s truly motivating that desire. Do I want to spread the message, or do I just want fame and wealth? Deep down, I worry about how I would handle that level of influence if God did give it to me, so perhaps the slow sales are actually Him protecting me.
  • I fear that my limited time with my daughter will never be enough to steer her away from the negative cultural influences I already see effecting her. Furthermore, when I am with her, I feel as if I have no idea how to teach her about Jesus. I have no problem standing up in front of a hundred men to share with them how Jesus changed my life, but my fear of failing as her dad often paralyzes me from talking about the same things with her.
  • I sometimes ignore my friends when I see them in real-life. I’ll pretend I don’t notice them and walk away to avoid the pleasantries and small talk. The thing is, I genuinely like these people, so this really makes no sense to me.
  • I’ve been known to take more than one sample at Costco. Sure, everyone does this, but here’s the deal: I feel zero remorse about it. None. Sometimes, I don’t even try to hide it. I’m a monster.
  • And finally, on a more serious note, even though God has set me free from the chains of my addiction to porn, I still walk back into its trap once or twice a year. 2014 was a “twice year,” but I have hope that 2015 will be a “once year.” Perhaps it will even be a “none year.” To be honest, I hate this. It makes me feel like a hypocrite knowing God has called me to help men with this issue, yet my own batting average remains imperfect. I want so badly to be done with it altogether.

All this goes to show that even though I’ve seen God do amazing things in my life in 2014, I still haven’t “arrived,” which is why I continue to need His grace and mercy daily.

So, here’s to another year of learning how to live out of my identity in Christ. And, by His grace, another year of growing more and more like Him.

With His love,

There you go. This is what goes on in my heart. Obviously, I’m not perfect. But let’s be honest here…none of us are.

As you look forward to 2015, maybe you will decide it’s the year for you to stop pretending everything is perfect.

Perhaps it’s time to finally trust someone to walk with you…pray for you…and love you for who you really are…outtakes and all.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results (James 5:16).

So, my friend, what did you leave out of your Christmas letter this year?

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