Learn graceful ways of saying no and of pointing out that this pressure to do something is not in line with most people’s wishes.
— Judith Martin

I’m walking through the grocery store and the air of Easter inundates my senses. Baskets with bows and tassels scream “buy me, the one last year is no good!” 

I keep walking trying to stick to my grocery list at hand, but then colorful pastel patterns flicker at me, cute little shirts perfect for my little boys. An adorable frilly number of dresses with intoxicating flowers seeks to control my mind into thinking that I need to buy them one for my daughter in order to fit the expectation of a picture perfect family on Easter. I begin to ponder if the outfits I had picked out were good enough even though they weren’t brand new.

I walked out the store, barely able to stick with my original list of items planned to purchase in order to stay within budget for the month, when I nearly bumped into my friend, who excitedly began asking me about my Easter plans with the family.

Embarrassed, I stutter as I shyly share how I didn’t really have a plan except to go to church that morning and perhaps we would do an Easter egg hunt that afternoon with the kids. Clueless of my internal struggle, she starts raving about her grandiose plans from the cutest outfits that she picked out for her kids, the giant Easter egg baskets she put together through Pinterest, and how the entire extended family would be coming over for an Easter egg hunt with croquet for the adults. 

I try to hold my composure as I walk away, engrossed in my sense of failure as a mom.

Is this you?

There seems to be so much pressure to do things in our society that runs along the phrase of “keeping up with the Joneses.” Sometimes I get the feeling that we are like lemurs doing things that most of us really wouldn’t care to do in the first place.

It’s not that buying new Easter clothes is wrong, or having some fun with candy egg hunts or dying Easter eggs are bad things. But what are your motives? Is this a fun family activity you want to do which will add value by doing them, or perhaps would your time and money be better spent elsewhere if you weren’t lured into the pull of the pressing expectation to do what everyone else seems to be doing? Do you fear being rejected or looked down upon because you didn’t have a Pinterest perfect Easter planned out?

I’ve been there, and still find myself being pulled into this spiral at times.

Trying not to error on the side of legalism, I believe many of us have the wrong motives when it comes to doing the things that we do, especially around the holidays or for birthday celebrations. There is this high expectation to do things a certain way in our society that has created a mentality of absolute instead of possibly. An attitude that is so easy to fall into if we are not checking the status of our heart for each situation at hand.

Honestly, I love Easter. I love to dye eggs in pretty pastels with an Easter egg hunt to match creating family memories to enjoy. Yet I also want to share with my kids about the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection and not have us forget the reason to celebrate this day in the first place. I love celebrating birthdays, holidays, and doing events together as a family, however if it’s not in the budget, or if my motives are along the lines of “keeping up with the Joneses” I’ve decided to make a concentrated effort to learn how to say “no” to these things.

You see, the problem with saying “yes” to these things is they can add extra stress on the family in multiple ways. From finances, planning, and trying to do too much during an especially busy season with work or illnesses or lack of sleep, it can create a heart lacking in joy and build tension with other family members. 

So four things to remember:

What are your motives for doing what you are doing?

Do you feel pressured to do this or do you want to do this?

Is this providing value to your family and something you enjoy doing, or does it simply adding to the noise and chaos of your life?

Is this within budget? No joke! We live in a consumerism world. We need to know how to say “no” or “not right now” or “not for this season” when we are not in the position to spend.

God knows the motives of our hearts. If you aren’t sure what your true motive is, He says we can always ask Him for wisdom and He will answer us. (James 1:5)

So, are you “keeping up with the Joneses” or do you see your actions and choices providing value to your life? Is there perhaps another way to build memories as a family without adding extra strife and stress due to the season of life you are in? Would it be ok to do things simply this Easter or do you feel the pressure to make a big show of it?

I know I can rest easy this Easter because I didn’t blow our budget past its limit, I didn’t cram too many activities into our day causing unnecessary anxiety or feelings of being overwhelmed, and I have pushed aside all feelings of guilt that I didn’t do things how they “should have been done” because I refuse to be pulled into that expectation. Without trying to sound like a brown nosed Christian, I am keeping my mind set on Jesus this Easter and enjoying the celebration through a joy-filled, stress-free heart.

This Easter, let us remember what the true representation of this day is all about.

He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” (Luke 24:1-7, NLT)