Today’s guest post is by Kasey Van Norman, bestselling author of Named by God, and founder of Kasey Van Norman Ministries. Her new book, Raw Faith: What Happens When God Picks a Fight, takes readers through her struggles with cancer and redemption through Christ.
It’s OK. You can say it.
I’m an elf murderer.
It’s like I can hear the collective gasps from all “marshmallow-buying,” “Pinterest-popping,” “shelf-scheming,” moms all over the world.
I first met Jingle, our Elf on the Shelf, in Christmas 2012. Attempting to compensate from the prior Christmas, which I chemo-barfed my way through, I purchased this jolly chap and commenced to “pinning” each and every “elf-trouble” scenario that had been invented by parents obviously more in touch with elfin demeanor than I was. I followed the instructions given on the box to a tee: no touching Jingle, Jingle is watching you, and my favorite rule: each morning Jingle creates a tiny pocket of mayhem however he chooses. My kids would have been unloaded on pretty hard for some of the stunts ”Jingle” pulled, but who could give a spanking to those rosy cheeks and cheery green eyes?
Every night I thought, and “pinned,” and studied, and scrambled to recreate better, more creative chaos than the night before. Each morning the kids awoke with excitement to find what that “bad elf” had been up to.
By the time December 20 rolled around, I thought to myself, “We’re obsessed with this dang toy.”
I was obsessed, the kids were obsessed, and quite honestly, I was done.
And so . . . I killed him.
Here’s the deal, guys: the elf convicted me.
I know, that seems trifle to say, but it’s true. Dealing with this “Elf on the Shelf” jazz made me feel pretty yucky. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first (mainly because it was covered in peanut butter from cleaning up after a demon-possessed elf adventure), but I’ve thought and prayed and here is my conclusion:
It was just too much energy on the wrong thing.
It was just too much thinking on the mythical instead of the real.
I had unintentionally and innocently shifted the attention in my home from what was real to what was not.
Misplacing your faith in myth
One of the primary sources of dysfunction in our world, if not the primary dysfunction, is the disbelief that God really is who he says he is. All of the broken relationships, addictions, worries, fears, burdens of deep shame and guilt that can overwhelm our life will always point back to only one place: the disbelief in what’s real.
Even when humans hope, we hope wrongly. The worldly way of hope is not true hope because it’s still woven with a small thread of doubt. We say things like, “I hope I get that job,” “I hope she invites me,” and “I hope we don’t divorce.” Even as it leaves our lips, even though our mind may determine it to be so, our heart is still doubting; still questioning. We don’t really know for certain we will get the job, or that she likes us, or that our marriage will stay together. Or do we?
Discovering God’s hope
In 1 Peter 1, we see hope described as a hope that is “full,” as well as a hope that is “living.” In Hebrews 6, we’re told to “hope in full assurance.” And all across the Bible’s landscape, the hope given to us is the same—it’s meant to be believed because it’s real.
The world’s hope—a world that inundates itself with mythical creatures, games, ideas, and traditions—is a hope that desires future things, yet those desires are riddled with the uncertainty of actually attaining them.
God’s hope, on the other hand, places his desires within our heart so that we can believe, in all certainty, that our desire will come to pass. In God’s hope, we are confident, certain, and sure. In God’s hope, we expect great things from God and believe those great things will happen in our life!
The tragedy traced across the board of humanity is how often we choose to believe in myth, and how little we choose to believe in truth.
I’m not asking you to sit your kids down and tell them that Santa and his elves are a myth, although that’s what I chose to do. But I’m challenging you to think on what fundamental life lessons we’re pouring our energies into.
Do we want to teach our children to believe in truth because God is truth and hoping in him will always give us certainty in life? Or, do we want to teach our children that while hoping in myth is fun for a while, its magic will one day let us down because it’s not certain or true?
We celebrate Christmas because Jesus is real. He is truth and life, and all hope set upon him will never fail. In a world that is constantly changing and overwhelming us with false hope, I choose to believe in the only one who is unchanging, constant, and everlasting—Jesus Christ.
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As a respected Bible teacher, Van Norman has dedicated her life to sharing God’s Word and encouraging women to trust in God. Learn to strengthen your faith and place your hope in Jesus Christ: pre-order Van Norman’s new book, Raw Faith, for 35% off!