Hope for when the holidays are hard // day two

Yesterday, we talked about the hard places and triggers that may pop up or be amplified by this beautiful, yet often difficult season called Christmas.  I shared that this year, I’ve been focusing on preparing my heart and fixing my eyes on Jesus so that I can experience the joy and life that this season truly does hold, instead of feeling stuck in my own hard spots.

I want to share with you today how I’m practically walking this out, with the hope that you can be encouraged as you walk through your own hard spots.

Holidays in the hard places day 2 - wooden tree photo

For me, it all starts with naming the things that I know may be difficult.   For example, there are certain anxiety triggers that I have to watch for during the holidays.  There is an added level of stress and fatigue that can come with traveling long distance to see family.  And this year specifically, I am walking through grief from a recent loss in our family.

I like journaling, so I write out the things that are on my heart.  Getting them out of my head and onto paper is freeing for me.  I pray through them, which basically means I have a conversation with God to talk to him about what is currently heavy on my heart… or that I know may be tough during the holidays.

And then I turn to his Love Letter, the Bible, and seek his wisdom and perspective… it’s part of how He responds in our conversation.  I look for verses that speak to my heart and mind about the named-things.  And then I meditate on those verses.  I speak them back to God.  I write them out or screenshot them in my phone, so I can continue to look at and think on these things that are True.  (I whole-heartedly believe that God’s Word is both true and life-giving.)

Holidays in the hard places day 2 - journal & verse screenshot

This Christmas, I am clinging to one of my all-time favorite passages.  It’s one I come back to often, and recently, it’s been the help and encouragement that my soul has needed.

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:4-7

These verses have been a life line for my soul.  As I step into them, prayerfully, I find the hope and peace that my soul needs to be settled and grounded.  From that position, I can look beyond my circumstances, beyond my hard spots, and the emotions of the moment.  I can lift my eyes and fix them on Jesus.  I can look ahead to Christmas Day with expectation.  And have my heart opened to receive the great joy that his birth brought… and is bringing to me today, in 2017.

Holidays in the hard places day 2 - rejoice photo

My hope and prayer for you is that your Christmas 2017 would not be defined by your current circumstances and hard places.  But rather, that it would be defined by the coming of our Savior… Emmanuel… God with us.  Whether you know Him already or not, He’s sending you an invitation to walk with Him and experience his joy and peace this holiday season.

With love this Christmas,

Amy

 

What helps you to walk through the hard places during the holiday season?  We’d love for you to share with us in the comments below.

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