Thanksgiving is over, company has vacated the premises, leftovers have finally been eaten, frozen, or tossed, and life has returned to normal…. or has it?
December is here, which means the Christmas season is in full swing, Christmas carols are on the radio, in the stores, and incorporated into our church worship services. Christmas movies flood the television and movie screens. Stores are filled with shoppers looking for just the right gifts at just the right prices. Homemakers are baking cookies and candies to share with family, friends, and acquaintances. Christmas get-togethers and business parties are being planned. Schools are planning Christmas programs. The list goes on and on.
Our social calendars are so busy this time of year. Our finances are strained to the max. Our calendars are filled with events with family and friends, as well as work, school, and church. We are striving to complete our shopping lists on time and under budget; decorate our homes, offices, and church buildings to show our enthusiasm for the season; and finish crafts and homemade goodies to hand out to family and friends for them to enjoy.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed as we look at everything we need to do. Although being overwhelmed can happen at any time, we are especially prone to this despairing emotion during the holidays as we endeavor to meet unrealistic expectations—our own and everyone else’s.
We get overwhelmed when we take our eyes off of God. We take our eyes off of God when we let all the “busy-ness” of our lives become our focus. When we have too much to do, in many instances the first area of our lives to suffer is our alone time with Jesus. When we need help to focus on what is important and necessary, we often find ourselves distanced from the One who has the answers. We have tried to take control of our lives when we should be turning control over to Him.
As we enter this Christmas season, make it a top priority to spend time with Him daily. Seek his discernment in what activities are a must and what activities you can let go. Remember that the reason for the season is not partying and presents. It’s not to meet others’ expectations of holiday rituals and traditions. The reason for the season is to celebrate God’s greatest gift to all mankind, His Son, Jesus Christ, who willingly gave His life on a cross so that we can be a part of God’s eternal family. That is cause for celebration!
Keeping the real purpose of Christmas in mind, below are several things we can do to help maintain the Spirit of worship and peace this Christmas season.
- Continue with daily prayer time and devotion with the Lord. If daily one-on-one time with Jesus is not on your schedule, make it so. One of the first areas to suffer when we get busy and overwhelmed is the quiet time spent focusing on God and seeking His guidance in our daily activities. Intercessory prayer is done in short, generic spurts rather than with a detailed desire to pray the way God leads us to pray in any given situation. If our lives are too busy to pray, we are too busy.
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalm 46:10 (NLT)
Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Psalm 90:14 (NLT)
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3 (NIV)
- Plan activities with a realistic schedule in mind. Look at every invitation to dinners, parties, and events, and if they are unnecessary or not compatible with your schedule, say “no.” You don’t have to participate in everything. Choose the activities that mean the most to you and your family and drop the other ones off your calendar.
- Keep your budget in mind as you purchase gifts, attend events, and plan Christmas activities and crafts. Although we want all our family and friends to have the “perfect” gifts to open under the tree, remember what your expense budget is so that come January and February you are not having to look for a second job to make ends meet. Spend wisely and give gifts with your heart. And do not worry about buying a gift for every family member, friend, neighbor, service provider, etc. when a heartfelt “Merry Christmas” will do.
- Everyone does not need to receive your homemade Christmas cookies, candy, or snacks. Be reasonable. While you may want to give everyone a homemade treat, preparing all those goodies takes time and money which perhaps could be better utilized elsewhere during this season. If you don’t have time to bake, don’t worry about it. There are plenty of others who will have time to bake. Enjoy their hard work instead. If you need to dole out goodies, pick them up for a reasonable price at the store and share them. This alleviates a lot of stress in your life and frees up a lot of time.
- Christmas cards are nice, but you do not have to send cards to every family member, friend or acquaintance. You also do not have to write a lengthy, personal missive in every card you send. If you want to keep in touch and share life events, perhaps you could plan to send more lengthy, detailed, personal notes in January wishing people a Happy New Year or in February wishing loved ones a Happy Valentine’s day!
- Although “crafty” gifts are nice and personal, accept your limitations. If you are not actually a “crafty” person, even an easy craft might not meet yours or anyone else’s expectations. (Have you ever looked at “Pinterest fails” on the Internet? Those are not the types of gifts you want to give or receive!) Making crafts is another activity that can put a strain on an already overtaxed financial budget and overstretched time budget.
- Accept that your house may never be decorated well enough to be put on the cover of House Beautiful. It may not even be decorated enough to be in House Beautiful. Do not stress about it. Decorate what you can, have fun with it and do not worry about what others think of your decorating skills. Ride around and look at other people’s decorations and appreciate them, or better yet, shut the lights off at night and enjoy the lights on your own Christmas tree.
- When feeling overwhelmed, stop and pray and put your focus where it needs to be. With God’s help, the “unnecessary” stuff that is causing distress, will be easily identified and can be eliminated.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. Psalms 55:22
These are just a few ideas on how we might focus and put worshiping Christ back in the Christmas Holiday. Do you have any ideas on how you can simplify your December and keep from being overwhelmed with all you have to do? Put those ideas to work and enjoy the holidays!
4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. Galatians 4:4-5 (NLT)
Thank you for loving us enough to send the gift of Jesus. Help us to worship and celebrate Christmas as the birth of our Savior and Lord. By accepting His gift, the giving of His blood on the cross as the sacrifice for our sins, we can forever be a part of the Family of God. What other gift compares to the sacrifice of His life? We celebrate His birth as part of your plan to make eternity available to us.