Preparing Our Hearts for the Holidays
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with the kids jingle-belling and everyone telling you, ‘Be of good cheer!’”
Andy Williams’ well-known holiday standard paints a familiar picture of a traditional Christmas in America. And while we often think of the Christmas Season as a time of celebration and sweet family traditions, the truth is, for many, the Christmas Season is hard. We may go to an event and find ourselves drawn into the “Christmas spirit.” And, for a few wonderful moments, we experience joy - or at least something close to it.
But for some, maybe you, that “joy” quickly starts to fade into reality, if it ever shows up at all.
Perhaps you’ve experienced loss - the death of a loved one, the loss of a dream, broken relationships, unemployment, or even the struggle of loving a rebellious child.
Unmet expectations can leave you frustrated or hurt. Difficult family relations can be magnified during the holidays. Maybe painful memories have taken root in your heart and seem to emerge during this season.
Whatever the reason, the holiday season can be just plain hard. Our brokenness and the brokenness of the world keep us from finding a safe place to rest. Throughout history, our response to our brokenness has been to hide. Adam and Eve hid in the garden after their sin. In a season of despair, Elijah hid in a cave. In his fear and shame, Peter hid among the crowd after Jesus was arrested. We hide from others, not wanting them to see our brokenness. We hide from ourselves because it seems easier than facing our brokenness. And, ultimately, we hide from God, our Loving Father, the only one who can love us through and bring healing in our brokenness.
Jesus never hid from his father, but he did hide with his father. The Bible tells us he withdrew from the busyness of the world with his father. He withdrew to prepare for the next season, to gain discernment for a major decision, and to be restored after being poured out in ministry. (See Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:12, Mark 1:35, Mark 14:32, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12)
So how can we, in our brokenness, step into the Christmas Season with joy and peace? We can start by following the example of Jesus and take time to hide with our Father. Jesus said in John 14:27, “I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (New Living Translation)
It seems too easy, right? Just spend time with our Father? But, yes, that is exactly what Jesus promised. Peace of mind. Peace in our hearts.
So, if you’re someone who struggles during the Christmas Season, spend time withdrawing with your Father. Share with Him your struggles, fears, and frustrations. Your Father wants you to experience His peace, which exceeds anything you can understand. It's a peace that will guard your heart and your mind as you live in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7)
As you spend time with God, consider these other steps:
Invite a trusted friend into your brokenness. Often, we isolate because we believe that no one else can understand. The truth is, we are all broken. That’s why we need a savior. That’s why we celebrate Christmas.
How will I care for my soul today?
How am I hiding from God? How can I hide with God better?
How am I guarding my heart against the world’s perceptions of holiday success? What really matters to me in this special season?
Whether it’s December 25th or July 16, your Father waits for you to call out to Him. He is faithful in all things and at all times.
AUTHORS: David Stephens is a retired school superintendent and currently teaches students with special needs in an elementary school setting. Kelly Stephens is a marriage and family therapist. They have been married 18 years and have three children.
Image by freestocks-photos from Pixabay
Abiding Marriage Blog, 2022. All Rights Reserved. Please email us at email@example.com for any comments or questions.