How are you doing with the holiday busyness?
My sister texted me this question early this week and it has been repeating over and over in my soul since then.
When I read it, I thought, “Actually, I’m doing great. I actually haven’t really felt the rush of the season yet.” I felt a little smug, like maybe I’m above getting harried by all the trappings of Christmas.
Then, I started wondering, Am I sitting on a time bomb? Am I not feeling stressed because I’m just procrastinating on all I need to do? Am I honestly at peace, or am I just in denial?
All that introspection took a drastic turn within 36 hours when it felt like all the holiday extras hit at once: an extra rehearsal for the Christmas worship dance at school, my son’s end of season athletic banquet for which I had volunteered to decorate, a Christmas play that the kids’ nanna bought tickets for us to attend, our neighborhood Christmas party (at our house), an opportunity to minister in dance. All of this is just a portion of what is on the calendar for this week.
I found myself grouching aloud at other drivers on the road as I drove my son to school this morning, a habit I just yesterday agreed with the Holy Spirit that I need to QUIT doing. When a dear friend texted, “Do you have time to walk this morning?” a roaring “NO!” welled up in my spirit. I felt agitated by this invitation, like it was an invasion of my personal space.
A quiet voice inside whispered to me, “Amy, you are tired. Slow down.”
I realized that I’m not above getting weary and stressed by the activities of the season, and that they were already taking a toll, less than 3 days after receiving that text from my sister. At that point, I remembered something I had read last week that has also been repeating itself in my soul. It read:
Right now many in your family are likely distracted by Christmas planning. The question is: are you distracted from contemplating the meaning of Christmas or from the true meaning of life?”
The article was entitled, The Reason for Living (from Answers in Genesis). It was a play on words. We are familiar with the phrase Jesus is the Reason for the Season, but the author was making the point, Jesus is the reason for living, not just the reason for the season. God didn’t command us to celebrate the anniversary of his Son’s birth. But He does call us to walk with Him daily, in season and out of season.
So, what does this look like, and how can it help us in the midst of an exciting but taxing time of year?
- Focus on simply walking with the Lord. Rather than focusing on keeping Jesus in the season, focus on keeping yourself in Him, as if this were just another day. Don’t short change your devotions. Even if you just take 10 minutes, don’t neglect to read the bible and invite the Lord to speak to you. My favorite line in the story of Mary and Martha, when Martha is resentful because she’s been working so hard for the Lord while Mary has been sitting at His feet, is when the Lord says, “She (Mary) has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her.” What was better was that she chose to spend time with Jesus, and it couldn’t be taken from her. A clean house, a batch of cookies, a special meal prepared, even a beautiful dance we spend hours rehearsing, all these can be taken from us. Someone messes up the house, the cookies burn or get eaten way too fast, the kids reject the meal, a snow storm causes our event to be cancelled. But the time we spend just talking and listening to the Lord, that cannot be taken from us. It’s impact cannot be stolen. I love that.
- Allow time for sleep. You might be laughing now. That’s easier said than done, when activities and responsibilities press in, sleep is the one area we often feel we can steal time from. But the Lord says, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat. The Lord grants sleep to his beloved.” Psalm 127:2 You are His beloved and He wants to grant you sleep. Will you receive it?
- Remember that freedom from fear is more important than freedom from want. This helps me so much. Whether it is fear of not having enough money or fear of not having enough sleep, its the fear that causes so much more pain than the lack. This may sound contradictory to my last point, but, when the night comes that you can’t sleep, or you are called to stay up late to finish a task He has given you, don’t fear. He’ll provide strength for the next day. Know that the rest will come. I love the verse that says, “The Lord gives strength to his people and blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11
- Don’t do anything unnecessary. This is a rule of thumb I go back to in busy seasons of my life. I may have a full day, but I don’t have to add to the stress by doing things that don’t need to be done. This includes things like pouring over Facebook posts, making an extra trip to the store instead of using what is at home to cook dinner, or deciding to reorganize my closet on the spot (not that it doesn’t need to be done, but it can be a distractions from the activities that I truly need to do). This is the easiest rule of thumb for me to violate, so it helps me to say it to myself over and over in these busy seasons. It keeps me focused.
- Turn on praise music and worship. This one almost sounds trite. As worship dancers, we know that dancing dispels the presence of the enemy and shifts our focus. We know we need to be worshiping in private if our public dancing is going to touch people and be an instrument of God’s grace. Nonetheless, I find I need the reminder to open my mouth and lift my hands in praise. This morning, after the Lord gently pointed out that I was tired and needed to slow down, He encouraged me to turn on praise music and sing. As I did, I felt my heart begin to shift and my mind begin to settle. My irritation with other drivers and friends who want to schedule time with me faded away. Pastor Bill Johnson says, “We become like what we worship.” (2 Corinthians 3:18 reinforces this.) When we worship the Lord, we become like Him. That’s exactly what we need in times of stress, to become more like Him. He‘s never in a hurry. He never worries. He doesn’t get distracted from what is most important. He has resources to meet every need. When we worship Him, we become like Him, and we develop the very characteristics that we need and long for.
My prayer for you is that you are able to abide with Him this month. I pray you are able to enjoy the extra activities as you walk through them, rooted in Him and trusting Him to order and provide for you in each of the extra activities you experience this season.
Take a minute and join the discussion. Share in the comments:
What is your level of peace this December?
Share how you keep your reason for living in focus during the Christmas season.