December 25 – the biggest gift-giving day of the year – is marked by lights, decorations, displays, music, and goodies, making the arrival of the Christmas season impossible to miss. Between the parties, festivities, gathering of friends and family, caroling, cooking, and shopping, it’s easy to exhaust ourselves.

If we don’t manage the hustle and bustle, it will manage us. That’s what happened to Martha, whose story begins in Luke 10:38. Martha invited Jesus into her home and immediately busied herself with hosting duties. Her sister, Mary, did not offer to help her, but instead sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to his teaching.

Martha focused on the preparation – what she could do for Jesus. Mary, on the other hand, focused on Jesus’s presence – what he could do for her. In the end, Martha was anxious and troubled, while Mary was filled with love and gratitude.

Perhaps you have tried to sit at his feet, only to be disappointed. Instead of a closeness, you’ve sensed a distance, as though your Savior isn’t there, or worse, doesn’t care. The more you try to connect, the farther away he seems to float. On top of that, there’s a growing numbness you can’t quite shake. If that’s you, you’re not alone.

For years, I struggled to accept Jesus’s love and forgiveness. Believing the lie that I was too far gone, I rejected scripture that said God loved, cherished and adored me. It took a Dark Season to teach me this lesson: trashy labels weren’t accessories God wanted me to wear. Before I could grow, that garbage had to go. This required vulnerability, which meant my walls had to come down. 1 John 4:18 says: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

This is why I love the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-30). If you’re not familiar with the story, this gal had been divorced five times and was not married to the man she lived with. Her entire community knew her Dirty Laundry, which followed her like a spotlight wherever she went. Yet Jesus purposely sought her out – not to condemn her past, but to affirm her future. Standing alongside her in the wreckage, his words of life restored her ruins. Where others saw ashes, he saw beauty. This is the Redeemer’s heart – to bring healing and wholeness to the discarded, the lost, the despised, and the rejected.

This Christmas, as you prepare to adore him, remember that he longs to adore you. The best gift you can give him is to sit at his feet and allow him to love you. In this gift-giving season, take the opportunity to receive his gift – the Perfect Love that casts out all fear.