It was a Christmas morning in the early 80’s. Together as a family, we were sitting around the tree as my mom opened a gift from my dad that he had wrapped himself. She pulled away the tissue paper and pulled out a sweater. It was the most beautiful sweater I had ever seen!
This sweater was unlike any sweater before it.This sweater was a Christmas sweater. Covered with red dots and Christmas wreaths, it gathered at the waist and had the puffiest sleeves available at that time. Around the neckline was a red and white checkered bandanna with a cream colored lace border that tied in a bow at the front. All I could think was, ‘Someday, I hope that I will wear that beautiful sweater!’
A few years later, my mom was going through her clothes, cleaning out her closet, and I saw the beautiful Christmas sweater in the give-away pile. My mom and I had both worn the sweater several times and she was now ready to pass it on. I didn’t want to let it go, so I took sweater from the pile and stored it in my closet. As the years passed, folks were not wearing beautiful Christmas sweaters anymore, so eventually it was pushed out of the way, out of sight, to the back of my closet.
Fast forward 30 years later. My teenage daughter’s school was having a Christmas party and they were all to wear ugly Christmas sweaters. I had never heard of an ugly Christmas sweater so when she asked me if I had one, I told her I did not. I told her she was welcome to look in my closet, maybe we could piece together a few red and green items, but she would certainly see that nothing in my closet was ugly! She started looking through my sweaters and stopped when she saw tucked away in the far back corner, the sweater my dad had given my mom all of those years ago. She held it out, smiled and said, ‘This one is perfect!’
Shocked, I tried my best to maintain my cool mom smile and said, ‘You can wear it if you want, but you won’t win. That sweater is too pretty to win!’
‘Mom,’ she replied, ‘I am pretty sure I am going to win. This sweater is ugly!’
I have a feeling I am not alone. How many of us have had a Christmas sweater in our closet that we thought was beautiful then, only to find out that it is considered ugly now? When did the change take place? Was there a specific day when this changed? Was it announced? Posted? Or did it just slowly change over time? Who got to decide? Who made that call?
We don’t have to look very far to see that the world’s opinion changes all of the time. In our never ending search to be beautiful, to feel loved and accepted, we can be so easily swayed by the opinions of others. We turn on our phones and see the latest fashion trends, hair styles, filtered photos of smiling faces displaying only what they want us to see and we find ourselves lacking. What was good enough yesterday is no longer good enough today, what was beautiful yesterday is no longer beautiful today and if we are not careful we can start to view ourselves that way, too.
In an effort to live up to the world’s opinion, we start running! We run to this store to get the latest Christmas sweater and we run to that store to get the latest shoes to match. We run to the hair salon to get a new cut and we run to the nail salon to get that pretty new holiday manicure we saw on a friend. We run and run and run trying to do in order to be. But running takes our energy, it saps our strength. We find ourselves exhausted at the end of the day, trying to meet the standard. And what happens tomorrow, when the standard changes…again? We get out of bed, and start running…again.
The world’s opinion is constantly changing, but as Christians we are to hold ourselves to a different standard. Opinions around us change, but God’s Truth does not. Rather than aligning our thoughts to the world’s ever changing opinion, we are to align our thoughts with His unchanging thoughts toward us. As a loving Father, He didn’t leave us guessing as to what His thoughts are! He wrote them down on paper, in a Book that we can read and read again in order to hide them in our hearts. The words He wrote then have never changed and never will.
Because His Word never changes, we don’t have to run! God’s Truth doesn’t lead to running around trying to meet the opinions of others. God’s Truth leads to rest. What He said about you before He created you is the same thing that He says about you today. It is what He will continue to say about you on your journey and it will be true in eternity when you stand before Him, face to face in Heaven. Knowing this, we can stop running and rest in the never changing Truth of God.
God’s Word says you are created in His image. (Genesis 1:26-27)
God’s Word says you are precious and honored and lovely in His sight. (Isaiah 43:4)
God’s Word says you are fearfully and wonderfully made…and what He makes is marvelous! (Psalm 139:14)
Knowing, believing, and living according to His Truth rather than the world’s opinion keeps us anchored to a constant. No matter how opinions shift around us, we will be certain of who we are, children of the King, created for a far greater purpose, to bring Him glory.
The world’s changing opinion never negates the truth of God’s Word.
My daughter came home at the end of that day with a huge smile on her face and a prize in her hand. She was right about my sweater. She had won the Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest at her school. Upon hearing this news, friends have borrowed my sweater for their parties, and yes, they too have won their contests wearing my sweater, but my opinion has not changed! I am holding on to that sweater, because who knows, in another 30 years, the world’s ever changing opinion might just come back to mine!
I am grateful this Christmas that God sent His Son, the Truth, into this ever changing world. Jesus never changes, and neither do His thoughts toward us. What an indescribable gift we have been given!
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17