I have to admit something. Maybe you’ve felt it, too… especially now in the final countdown to Christmas.
The holidays can be hard.
It’s supposed to be the season of happy and merry, but I think if we’re all honest, we often are carrying something heavy, something difficult, or even messy with us into Christmas.
Perhaps a new layer of grief is unraveled as you prepare to celebrate without a loved one you’ve lost recently… or even many years ago.
Perhaps there is anxiety, conflict or difficult family dynamics that try to replace the joy of the season with frustration or fear.
Perhaps in the season of giving and receiving gifts, the holidays instead give you the twisted gift of comparison, shame or loneliness. Feelings of lack or disappointment seem to make it impossible to receive what is true and life-giving.
Or maybe perfectionism in the form of stress and busyness leaves you wiped out and unable to tune in to the glory this season truly holds.
The list could go on. While I wish I could magically remove these hard places that we often find our hearts and minds in during the Christmas season, I’m no fairy godmother with a magic wand. But I also don’t think we’re left to hopelessly be stuck in these places either.
I’ve thought a lot this Advent about preparing my heart. Knowing that these hard spots, these triggers, may pop up or be amplified by this beautiful, yet often difficult season. In fact, they probably will. But instead of being blindsided by them this year, I’ve wanted to be ready.
I don’t want the loss of yesterday, the pain of today, or fear of the future to rob from me the ability to experience of the greatest Gift of all. I want to receive the now gift of hope and redemption. Peace and comfort. Healing from the deepest of hurts. Eternal inheritance. True joy. All in the form of a savior king wrapped in swaddling clothes, whose birthday we celebrate on December 25th.
As Christmas approaches, I want to fix my eyes on Jesus. The child who was humbly born in a stable but who represented the Hope of a hurting and lost world. The same Jesus who died on the cross, pouring out his life in the greatest act of Love in history. And the Jesus who is my friend and who is with me today, no matter what my life may look or feel like.
For me, that has meant naming the things that I know may be hard for me. Hurts, voices and lies that will aim to sideline me emotionally and mentally. And being prepared with truth… Truth… that can provide the strength, hope and peace that I need.
I want to turn my mind away from what is un-true and instead think about…
Whatever is true * Whatever is noble * Whatever is right * Whatever is pure * Whatever is lovely * Whatever is admirable * Anything that is excellent or praiseworthy.
Yes, these are the things that I want to think about.
As it talks about in the fourth chapter of Philippians, whenever I do this and put into practice all that I have learned in God’s Love Letter to me… whenever I do what that Child in swaddling clothes modeled in his life on this earth… then the God of peace will be with me.
The hard places won’t magically disappear. But with the God of peace with me, I can have the courage to step into them and experience true hope and joy even in the middle of them.
So what does this look like practically? Come back tomorrow to hear more of how I walk this out in my own life…