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Spiritual Life

Your Heart, His Home: What shall I give the Christ-child?

You know you’ve reached a new level of fatigue when you’ve been standing in the running shower for a good three minutes before, as your eyes fog over, you realize you’re still wearing your glasses.

My Advent plans this year are small: rest, prayer, adoration, and as much stillness as I can possibly get. Next spring, I will travel to give retreats and speak nearly every weekend for months on end. This is work I love and am called to do, work I’m honored to do, work I trust has been given to me by my Father – and it’s work for which I need to prepare well. So, Advent rest it is.

I know this is a season for giving, for serving the poor and needy, for goodwill toward our fellow man, for making a decided effort to share our material wealth, food, clothing, and gifts with those who cannot provide such things for themselves. And to the degree that I can do those things, I will. But I must also rest in the Lord and let him restock my spiritual pond.

Maybe you do too.

There might be any number of reasons why you may need to scale back in this season. Maybe illness has taken over your home and your living room looks like a triage unit. Maybe you are overwhelmed with doctor’s appointments and trips to the hospital. Maybe it’s all you can do to keep food in the fridge and the heating bill paid. Or perhaps inflation, unemployment, or family tensions have you stretched to the point of breaking. You may have true cause to approach the Christ child this Christmas emptyhanded and exhausted. He will not turn you away.

Whether you are in a season of plentiful energy or none, a season of abundance or of want, let’s remember that the greatest gift we can bring to Jesus is ourselves, our open hearts willing to be molded by the touch of his innocent Infant hand, to kneel before him in awe, and to love and serve in the modest, hidden ways that we can. Let’s never be tempted by the lie that tells us Jesus measures us only by good works and gifts given. Those can be real goods when given in love and generosity, and if you have resources, share them and be blessed. But the Lord equally delights when we give him the gift of ourselves, even when we are broken, exhausted, spent, and needy.

What gift shall I offer the Christ child this Christmas?

Lord of the Universe, Christ-child-King, Prince of Peace, and Mighty God, I fall before you with nothing to offer but my heart. I pray you will receive my fatigue as myrrh, my prayers as frankincense, my trust in your mercy as gold. Amen.

Liz Kelly Stanchina is the award-winning author of eleven books, including Love Like A Saint: Cultivating Virtue with Holy Women and A Place Called Golgotha: Meditations on the Last Words of Christ (January 2023). Visit her website at

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