The holidays are usually a pretty stressful time for most people. Back in 2013, 3.08 trillion dollars was spent in the U.S. on holiday retail purchases. There’s quite a fair bit of shopping that needs to get done in 2-3 months, since most stores don’t begin offering holiday promotions until Oct. 1st. Between shopping, get-togethers, and endless to-do lists, it’s easy to lose sight of God in the everyday moments.
If you’re like me, you may allow the endless demands of the busy holiday season to take over, losing sight of the true reason for the season. Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful to remain close to Jesus during the holidays.
Don’t Neglect the Word
This seems pretty simple, but it is surprisingly easy to neglect reading the Bible when there are so many things vying for our attention. When we start our days off in the Word, our minds and hearts are fine-tuned to respond to God’s presence throughout the rest of the day.
I find that finding time to sit down and read can be tricky when I’m busy doing this or that, so what has been helpful for me is to listen to an audio bible first thing in morning as I’m getting ready to start my day. Make it interesting for yourself, and find what works for you. You might like more of a modern audio bible, such as Streetlights by Humble Beast, or you might even consider starting a Thanksgiving or Advent reading plan or devotional to help you focus on Him throughout the holidays.
The holidays can easily cause us to shift our focus off God and others and onto ourselves. We focus on what we want and wish we had and all the things we have to get done. But we are instructed to serve others.
“Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.”
1 Peter 4:10
“For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.”
Take time this season to be mindful of service opportunities around you. There are always extra service opportunities in our churches and community shelters around the holiday season, but there are also those immediately surrounding you who have difficult times during the holidays and could use some extra love and attention. Pray and ask God to help you recognize those in need, and then follow up on them.
Pray When You Feel Overwhelmed
Holidays can become exhausting, and it’s pretty normal to feel overwhelmed by the enormous list of things that need to get done. Whenever holiday stressors start to take over, take a minute to talk to God. Talking to him about your anxiety and stress is the best way to release those negative emotions to make room for His peace.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.”
1 Peter 5:6-7
Since my battle with cancer started, I have days where I live in the realm of being overwhelmed. Add in the extra stress of the holiday season, and I’m a walking ball of nerves and what ifs. Taking time to vent to God and asking for His help with all that is weighing down on me is crucial for me during the holidays. Taking time to simply talk to Him reminds me that He’s always there, wiping out my fears, worries and anxieties, and replacing them with His peace.
Be An Intentional Planner
Are you a people-pleaser? Do you find it hard to say ‘no’? If you answered yes, I am right there with you. It is so hard to maneuver through the holidays without wanting to say yes to every holiday invitation, service opportunity and outing. I’ve learned the hard way that by not setting healthy boundaries, it is so easy to get overwhelmed and exhausted by all the events and things that need to get done.
Remember my post last week about how busyness is not a badge of honor? Well, this is a perfect example of that. Busyness during the holidays can keep us distracted from Jesus. The holidays are about being thankful and grateful for family and ultimately for the sacrifice Jesus made for us and all He’s given us. In order to keep our focus on Christ, prioritize your holiday plans into the events and to-dos that are most important to you, then say no to the things that will bring you more stress than joy.
This holiday season I pray that you remain close to God, and that you seek quiet time to reflect on Him, pray and praise Him. Seek to draw near to Him. After all, our relationship with Him is the best gift of all!