Christmas Is Coming!

I’ve got pottery to make for Christmas and my forearms hurt from 6 hours of doing it yesterday. So far I’ve made my stuff for the Killingsworth Auction to help one of our women’s shelters. One of my ministers is getting married and her vase is made. I’ve done another 51 bowls and vases for the staff in the United Methodist Center. What I have left are 20 pieces for the Cabinet, 20 pieces for the family, and 100 Christmas ornaments for all of the Columbia District clergy, active and retired. Plus everything has to be bisque-fired and then glazed and fired again. It’s a daunting task. I love doing it. I’m just tired.

I never keep anything for myself and relish giving it away. I don’t grow vegetables to offer people, but pottery I can do! My problem is that I’m not finished with Charge Conferences and today is November 2! Christmas parties and the Big Day itself are right around the corner. Can it be done? I’ve got glazes to mix and there’s little fun in putting your hands in wet glaze and sieving it through a mesh on a cold day. That my pottery studio isn’t heated doesn’t help. What will be my motivation to finish the task?

Psychologists, for years, have said that one of the best ways to get out of the doldrums is to make yourself do something for somebody else. They’re right! If we give in to the pits we’re never going to get out. Commitment is the ability to push through the pain, the angst, the pessimistic cynical mindset in which we find ourselves and keep at the projects that we’re supposed to complete. George Miller gave an interesting analogy, “The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.” What he’s saying about Italian food is true for me. It sticks with me for a long time. To paraphrase John Wesley, “Doing all the good we can sticks with us, too!” We have to keep at the things that matter!

So, when we’re a little down, we shouldn’t give in to it. We should stick to the things that we know that we’re supposed to do. Sure, I know very well that sometimes I don’t feel like going out to my pottery studio, but I also know the endorphins that are released when I throw clay will make me feel better. Visiting someone, doing my devotions, or presiding over Charge Conferences isn’t always appealing, but spiritual energy is released every time!  Missionary and martyr Jim Elliott said something that inspires me to be committed no matter the task: “Wherever you are, be all there.” Unfortunately, there are lots of us looking forward to the weekend too much. Many of us easily avoid the things we should be doing right now. Jerome K. Jerome, who lived from 1859-1927, said it for all sad-sacks and procrastinators, “I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”

So maybe we shouldn’t vegetate and let our burdens build up. Doing something good and worthwhile is a better answer. It’s all about commitment. Lewis Smedes puts the matter quite plainly, “I want to say to you that if you have a ship you will not desert, if you have people you will not forsake, if you have causes you will not abandon, then you are like God… When a person makes a promise, she reaches out into an unpredictable future and makes one thing predictable: she will be there even when being there costs her more than she wants to pay. When a person makes a promise, he stretches himself out into circumstances that no one can control and control at least one thing: he will be there no matter what the circumstances turn out to be. With one simple word of promise, a person creates an island of certainty in a sea of uncertainty.” Today I will think of others and let nothing dissuade me from doing everything that I can for somebody else!

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