When November 1st rolls around do you suddenly get a little jolt of tension through your body? The holidays are just around the corner...and perhaps your stress levels burst into high gear. If so, you aren't alone. We begin to think of adding more commitments into schedules that are already too full. There are fellowship gatherings at church, special worship services, family events, shorter deadlines at work, school concerts, special menus to plan, travel plans to schedule, baking, greeting cards, visiting friends and family, shopping (and more shopping), and of course the financial impact associated with these tangible expressions of our love. Whew...I'm tired already!
Where is the "Peace" of the season? Jesus said that He gives us peace. But we must accept it in order to benefit from it. There are some very important steps we can take to receive "peace" every day, but in particular over the busy (hectic) times in life.
Be a Mary instead of a Martha (Luke 10:41). Martha was so distracted by her "to do list" to provide the "perfect" dinner event for Jesus that she missed the most important thing...spending time at the feet of Jesus. Mary, her sister, knew what was needed - communing with Him. Over the coming holiday season, put Jesus as the number one priority. Don't skip personal and corporate worship.
Ease up on the need for perfection. Our celebrations, family traditions and expressions of love are meaningful and important aspects of fellowship. The stress we feel in planning and offering hospitality frequently comes from self-imposed expectations and not from our guests. Take a deep breath and simplify. Perfection isn't possible in this world anyway!
The holiday period lasts for weeks and weeks: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Pace yourself and prioritize. It is very possible to have emotionally and spiritually enriching holiday experiences without saying "yes" to every possible event.
Take care of your body. Don't fall into the habit of skipping regular meals so that
you can fill up at a buffet table or holiday meal. Increase your daily water consumption and cut back on caffeine. Irregular meals and too much caffeine play havoc with body hormones and have negative impact on anxiety and weight. Stay as close to your regular sleep patterns as possible. Too many late nights wedged into a work week will also disrupt the body's normal hormone balance. Even though you're busy, 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week will help to produce calming, anxiety-relieving hormones.
With some prayer, planning and commitment, it is possible to find the "Peace" in the season. The key to this "peace" begins and ends with the Lord. As we work through the packed calendar of Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, we must remember that it is the love and Grace of our Lord that takes us through each day all year long. During this holiday season pray that He will be honored in each choice, activity and event you decide to attend. Choose them for Him, and He will rain down Grace and Peace.