Updated: Dec 22, 2021
With the beautiful season of celebrating our Jesus, there are plenty of opportunities to bless or stress. I love this time of year. The smells, lights, colors, family gatherings, buying ornaments, decorating the tree, and decking the halls. However, this special occasion also brings a bit of pain and pressure. Finances, family dynamics, grief or loss, health issues, and let's add a bit of quarantine to the mix, all creators of pressures and stressors.
Comfort and Joy are excellent weapons against anxiety and depression. But we don't just wake up with it; we need to wake up to it, spend time in it, and let the spirit of Christmas transform us. The simple steps for me start in the Word, my favorite worship music, coffee, and the corner of my couch. But who says life is simple, eh? Wrenches get thrown into our spokes and we crash into a brick wall, shattering our peace like a gumball machine tipped over, and all our “season of joy” feelings are rolling around the floor. Perhaps it's more than frustration that gets to you. Maybe it's grief that wakes you in the morning. Perhaps you are juggling finances to pay bills and buy Christmas presents. Divorce or family separation brings a nice little jingle to the merry, eh?
The pressure to feel joy because we are good Christians girls is nonsense. Joy is more than feelings. The thought that we need to rid ourselves of grief is ridiculous. The burden that tells us to repair relationships is novel but not always ideal. Yet, we can still have His JOY among these dark backdrops.
Sometimes grief is part of Christmas; it is filled with memories and longings to see someone around the tree. We will have tears and moments of nostalgia. Grief is the price of love, and pioneering through special occasions without a loved one can be done with peace. It’s not magic; it’s a minute-by-minute living until it doesn’t hurt anymore.
Occasionally we will have a holiday that the funds are low, the bills are high, and the needs are the same. Some of our best Christmas’s were intimate letters exchanged rather than gifts, dollar tree stocking stuffers, drawing names with the challenge of a budget, and simple gatherings. It created a refocus and inserted the magic back into Christmas.
And yes, we will experience seasons of strained relationships. Remember, you set boundaries down for a reason, Christmas isn’t time to lower them, but you can still love, include and buy gifts for those you have had to draw a line for. It’s not unforgiving to give rules of relationships.
My point: You have several opportunities throughout the day to Bless or Stress. You have weapons to fight the pressures, His powerful word! You can choose Comfort and Joy. Really choose it. You have 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86,400 seconds to correct your attitude, adjust your mindset, refocus your vision, realign your heart, and regain your peace. At any time throughout the day, you feel you need to take a breath and recalibrate your heart, do it! You don’t have to wait for tomorrow.
“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
Lamentations 3:20-24 NLT