Kelly Williams Hale is our host today on Celebrating God’s Grace and shares three powerful tips on how we can navigate the pressures of the holidays and still stay focused on the reason for the season: King Jesus. For many, Christmas time is difficult. Whether we’ve lost a loved one or are feeling overwhelmed, peace – that surpasses understanding – is always available (Philippians 4:6). Let us be a beacon of light! It really does make a difference to other people. We can all be beautiful examples of Jesus.
Today’s episode is about healing and the holidays.
We just celebrated Thanksgiving.
And I hope each one of you enjoyed a wonderful day of Thanksgiving this year.
Thanking God for all the things he’s blessed you with, and all the things we’re so grateful for.
Counting our blessings is so important to do – not just on Thanksgiving, but every day.
And so, as we head into the Christmas season, I want to talk about all the responsibilities, all the things that are going to be happening, and all the things that you have to do.
The message today is going to be around our journey, growing, becoming all that God has planned for us.
It can be defined as a healing journey… inner healing and really becoming the best version of ourselves, acknowledging the gift that we are – that God created us to be.
And on that journey of healing and growing and really diving into God’s word and believing who he says we are, the holidays can bring up a lot of struggles – in terms of our emotions, our feelings. With relationships and the people in our life.
Many of us have a to do list a mile long, wrapping presents, decorating the house, entertaining or being invited to other events and gatherings.
So today I’m going to share three tips on how to navigate that, while taking care of yourself.
This time of year can bring up feelings of overwhelm – with all the pressures, and we can lose sight of the reason for the season, which is Jesus, and celebrating his birth. And all that that means…
Our salvation as women of faith, and the promises that God gives us in the Bible.
The scripture I’d like to start with is:
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
And I can tell you during this holiday season, we can definitely feel anxious.
You might want to write this verse down, keep it by your refrigerator, and when you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the things, remind yourself that Jesus is with you.
And he cares about you.
My first tip for healing and the holidays is to remember to take care of yourself.
And what that means is really protect your energy, so that you can truly enjoy this season, you can enjoy your family, you can enjoy all the nuances and all the opportunities to celebrate Jesus.
When we don’t take care of ourselves, we can get overwhelmed, we may say yes to things we don’t really want to do – and then beat ourselves up… Or we can feel guilty if we say no.
I want to give you permission to take care of yourself – and that it’s okay to say no.
We need to evaluate our priorities. Our emotions can get the best of us during the holidays –
We just want everyone to be happy!
We don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings by saying no.
I remember a Bible Study I did years ago about Mary and Martha.
Remember Martha got so mad because she was in the kitchen doing all the cooking, etc – and Mary was hanging out with Jesus.
Who did Jesus say was focused on the right thing? Mary
It was during this time of this Bible Study that I found myself saying yes to all the requests. Particularly around church needs.
But I was reminded that when I always say, I am keeping a blessing from someone else.
Just imagine when you somebody ask you for help. Doesn’t it feel good to help out?
I actually get upset with friends if they don’t ask for help and they’ve ended up stressed and wore out.
Women want to help.
Part of taking care of ourselves is asking for help if we need it. Consider this another permission slip to do so!
And so, taking care of ourselves may mean saying no or asking for help.
And honestly, when you get overwhelmed, start to feel frustrated or stressed, just take a deep breath.
I encourage you to stop for a moment and take a deep breath when everything seems to be piling up and time is getting shorter and now it’s Christmas Eve and you still haven’t shopped for your husband.
Take a moment to pray, breathe and center yourself.
And again, Cast your cares on God. Because God is the keeper of time.
I can’t tell you how many times I was frazzled, running late or overwhelmed – I took a moment to just to pray and breathe, there was always enough time.
It’s almost as if God adds an extra 10 minutes to our 24-hour day!
Tip number two is to be mindful of your reactions.
And what I mean by that is when you’re with your family, we can get caught up in different scenarios, different situations, different conversations where, you know, there’s nobody like our family that knows what buttons to push.
And so being mindful of our reactions is just understanding what triggers us. What triggers our emotions.
Like, if Uncle Joe always teases you about, you know, the turkeys dry, or the mashed potatoes are lumpy or whatever, just recognize that you can control your reaction to him, we can control our reactions to the people in our life.
When we get caught up in emotional conversations – for example, politics always seems to come up at family gatherings… And if we know we can lose our cool around a particular topic, we need to be aware and also prepared with our responses.
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
So tip 2 is to understand that if you’re triggered by certain things, be mindful of your response.
We should also take into consideration who the comment is coming from.
For example, my response or reaction to something my mom says will be different than my brothers.
We can then understand and frame our response based on who that person is.
It might be safe and appropriate to say, “that hurt my feelings.”
Or it might be more appropriate just to say, “oh, please excuse me, I’ve got to step out for a minute.”
I believe all of us know that certain people and certain situations will push our buttons and so being mindful of our reactions will be helpful as we navigate the holidays and holding onto our peace.
Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation with prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Finally, tip number three is really about expectations.
Setting expectations for yourself and lowering expectations of others.
Determine up front what you’re willing to participate in.
Now is the time to determine your schedule and what you’re available for.
So that when your husband says, let’s go look at Christmas lights tonight, but you’ve already committed to baking pies for your ladies’ group… you’ll be able to say honey, let’s go look at the Christmas lights tomorrow night, because I’ve got to make these pies.
Setting expectations up front – so it won’t feel bad – for you and for others – when you have to say, “no, I’m sorry, I can’t…”
And then also, remember that other people are not always going to do the things that we want them to do. Or do things the way we do them.
So when I say lower your expectations of others, it will help your nervous system, when someone drops the ball or doesn’t follow through.
When we have expectations of others – and they don’t meet those expectations – that can create anxious feelings as well during the holidays.
We expect Aunt Susie to bring the green bean casserole, but she totally forgot.
There’s less disappointment and more grace when we allow others to be human.
We all forget things sometimes!
We all want to have a wonderful holiday season filled with joy, love and peace. And I believe it is possible!
Let us all remember to share a kind word when we’re out and about – shopping at the grocery store, picking up presents, or even at home, wishing the Amazon delivery person a wonderful, blessed day!
So many people are hurting this holiday season, whether they’ve lost someone or they’re feeling overwhelmed with all the things… we as believers can be a beacon of light, it really does make a difference to other people.
And so, I just want to leave you with this final scripture, John 14, verse 27, that says,
Peace, I leave with you, my peace I give you I do not give it to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
So, over the next few weeks, I encourage you all to take care of yourself and remember this is a time to celebrate Jesus’ birth. You get to love your family and love the people in your life.
We can all be a beautiful example of Jesus.