We finally get to have a Christmas together again, and yet…the stress has not gone away.
Whether you are overwhelmed, not feeling it, or even grieving this Christmas, God is sharing an invitation with you to experience His peace and presence. Christmas at it’s core is not about the decorating, parties, gifts, or even the goodwill that is shared. Christmas is about the God of the Universe being so crazy in love with you that He was willing to become a helpless baby, born into poverty, to be in relationship with you. It’s the most life altering love story ever told and it’s 10 times better than any tinseled cheery feeling you get from gift giving.
This Christmas, let the the reason for celebrating wash over you. Jesus’ birth and sacrifice for us bubbles up gratitude and joy deep down in our soul. It doesn’t push out the painful feelings, but rather wraps them up in a blanket of God’s goodness. The very picture of the creator of the universe who owns the cattle on a 1,000 hills, lying in an animal feed trough and relying 100% on his mother for everything is mind boggling and moving. He did it for you. He did it for me. He is still doing it today. Reaching for you with an invitation of trust and rest.
I feel it every Christmas. The hurry starts in my brain and works it way to my hands. The compulsion to “do.” We are not defined by what we do, but who we ARE. I know this and yet, each Christmas I hear, “Well, I HAVE to buy them a present and I HAVE to send Christmas cards.” LIES. We don’t have to do anything at Christmas. This year I am stripping back and reevaluating how to add joy back into my Christmas and I hope it helps you too.
Sit in the quiet with God.
When the hurry of this season starts to seize my heart and mind. I put the brakes on and slow right down! This Christmas I am going to bed a little earlier and getting up a little earlier for a moment of quiet with God before the hustle and bustle sweeps me away. I’m a mom to a toddler, so this doesn’t happen every day but when it does it’s a game changer.
You may be afraid to sit with your thoughts in the quiet.We don’t think we are scared to be alone with ourselves, but the break-neck speeds with which we live our lives reveals that we are running and avoiding. However, when you sit for a moment wrapped in a blanket and let your thoughts and feelings catch up with you, you will find God’s grace waiting.
Some days I need to cry and unload my heart to God. Building up our feelings this time of year only makes them come out sideways on the wrong person. Other days, I just sit in gratitude and tell God the blessings I do have. It may only take 5 minutes and yet it will keep you from the hustle and bustle that can define our Christmas.
2. Say NO to the things that do not bring you joy.
Christmas always seems to carry obligation with it.
“We have to go to their Christmas party.”
“We always decorate the whole house!”
“It will hurt her feelings if we don’t get her a gift!”
These “musts” are what cause me the most stress during the holidays. This year I am reevaluating. I’m a new mom and so most Christmas parties are out this year because they are past my son’s bedtime. We are also not going to see lights like we always do because every year it’s so crowded and never ends up actually being fun. Look at what your month is filled with and decide what things stay and what things go. Our family always helps pack meals for less fortunate families with our church and that is something we adore doing! Create a calendar based on “want tos” and feel free to cut some “have tos.”
3. Do a random act of kindness.
We are selfish by nature, but we connect with the heart of God when we do something selfless. Putting the focus on someone else can help us view our circumstances differently. It also just brings a smile to our face and instantly spreads happiness. Planning and praying about who to bless the Christmas can bring so much joy! It’s also a wonderful teaching experience for children in your life. If you aren’t a parent, then invite a child you know to be a part of planning your act of kindness. I promise, they will love it and so will you!