What's Really Important? The Big Fish

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

The holiday season brings up many opportunities for us to make a difference. This Christmas, let's get our priorities straight by deciding what really matters. And what really matters is the Christ spirit—that absolute love that sees the good in others and refuses to get upset at the little things in life.

Big or Little Fish
When something happens that could make us upset, before we react, we can ask ourselves whether this is a big fish (something that's really important) or a little fish (something that's not). It may require some quiet thinking time, some honest time with God, to decide on the size of the fish. But if we give ourselves time to pause and check our priorities, we'll save ourselves a lot of unnecessary struggle. If we're just dealing with a little fish, we can let it go. We don't have to give mental space or energy to it. We can simply move on with equanimity.

Some things that seem highly important in the moment really aren't in the scheme of things. Such is the way with opinions. We may think our opinions really matter. We may want to fight for them and argue over them. But if we hold onto them too tightly, we might lose a friendship or close ourselves off to new ideas; we might even be wrong. And if we've fought so hard for a "wrong" opinion, we'll just seem foolish. If our opinion aligns with truth, the truth will eventually come out. So we can relax about our opinions.

Which is more important—to be loving or to be right? To be loving, of course.

This can be practiced during the Christmas season in a variety of ways. When our family is preparing for parties or gatherings, we can realize that the people are more important than the activity. So if someone gets upset with us or if we're tempted to get irritated with someone else, we can refuse to take the bait. Rather, we can speak with the love of the Christ. We can refuse to react or engage in an argument. If there's something that's really important, we can wait to find the right time to discuss the issue without using heated or insulting language.

When we're out shopping, we can relax and smile at others rather than get upset at the long lines and traffic. We can trust God rather than stress out that we can't find the right gift. We can express gratitude for the beauty around us rather than complain about the mishaps at the mall or in the parking lot. We can let others go first and rejoice that God is sending out blessings upon us.

Stores and advertisements say that buying things is what counts during the holidays. We need to guard our thought against this invasive message that's trying to undermine the value of expressing the Christ spirit. Giving is an essential element of this spirit. But commercialism is diametrically opposed to Christmas. So what does it mean to give? What can we give?

This Christmas, let's keep our priorities clear. Let's give love, joy, compliments, encouragement. Let's provide a listening ear, a helping hand, a comforting hug. We can practice that "peace on earth" of which the angels sang by staying calm when things are stressful. We can let go of all the little fish struggles and rejoice that a long time ago, a little baby was born who would light the way and show us how to bring "good will" to others. The true spirit of Christmas shrinks every size fish, while our spiritual priorities grow ever larger—right before our eyes!