Being Present This Holiday Season Doesn’t Mean Being Perfect

Dr. Nicole Martin, Chief Impact Officer at Christianity Today, concludes her conversation with us this month by imploring all of us to choose to be present during this holiday season, rather than try to only show your “perfect” side.

You can listen to this conversation with Nicole on our podcast, Work, Love, Pray! Listen below or click here to find your preferred listening platform.

There are so many ways you can approach this because the witness of Christ is not exclusive to Christmas. Christmas just gives us a beautiful opportunity to be a witness. How? Well, Christmas gives us a chance to talk about our peace—the peace we have with God. Christmas also allows our actions to speak of our faith. Around the holidays, people tend to be more generous and more charitable. There are things we can do in our community because we believe in Jesus. We can serve in shelters, or provide gifts for children in need, or spend intentional time with the elderly members of our communities.

So we can use our words to bear witness of what and why we believe, and where our peace and our joy comes from. And then we can use our actions to show up for the least of these and allow the love and the power of Christ to flow through our hands and feet. 

Well, I’m a foodie, so I most look forward to the food. Thanksgiving is known for the meats, but Christmas is known for the sweets! I usually keep my cooking adventures in the savory zone, but around Christmas, the kids and I venture into the sweet zone.  

I want readers to remember what it means to be present with God, and with our loved ones, even with ourselves. I want us to remember that being present doesn’t mean being perfect. Part of what I appreciate about the way that Jesus came into the Earth is that He went through the entire birthing process, which is extremely messy and intimate and requires so much. And sometimes I think that’s representative of our relationships. They’re not always easy. Not every relative has a great relationship with us. There are areas of brokenness in our friendships and in our families. But if we can remember that Christ fought through all of that just to be with us, then it gives us permission and grace to fight through anything just to be with people. 

That can look like bringing cookies, or playing a game, or calling or FaceTiming. I pray that all of us take the time to remember what presence looks like, because sometimes you have to be present with God to be prepared for what God has next. I want to be present, and I want my kids to learn what presence looks like from me—not always on the go and hurrying. Sometimes we have to be that way, but I want my loved ones to learn what presence looks like as a means of preparing for all that God has in store. 

Reverend Doctor Nicole Massie Martin was born and educated in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University with a triple major in Human and Organizational Development, Educational Studies, and French. Dr. Martin received her Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. She earned a Doctor of Ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with an emphasis on African American Redemptive Leadership.

Dr. Martin serves as the Chief Impact Officer at Christianity Today. She is the founder and Executive Director of Soulfire International Ministries, which accelerates thriving for pastors, churches, and younger leaders. She is also active in her local congregation in Maryland at Kingdom Fellowship AME Church where she supports the Discipleship Ministry.

Dr. Martin is a gifted writer and author of Made to Lead: Empowering Women for Ministry and Leaning In, Letting Go: A Lenten Devotional. She serves on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals and has been inducted into the esteemed Board of Preachers at Morehouse College.

Dr. Martin is married to her best friend, Dr. Mark Martin, and they have two amazing daughters, Addison and Josephine.