Have you felt the shift too? What used to be described as the most wonderful time of the year has been culturally replaced with the “Christmas crazy.” In my conversations with women, it seems the excitement and joy we had as kids has largely been replaced with calendar (and budget!) management with a side of stress and pressure.
And if that’s how we view Christmas, it’s no wonder we attempt to rush through it.
I get it. Five or six years ago, that’s where I was too. Hanging by a thread physically and emotionally, I forced a smile on my face during my so-called “favorite” holiday, even though on the inside I was so ready for Christmas to be over so things would slow down.
One morning, I was praying about my attitude when a thought entered my mind:
Things don’t slow down. People do.
Christmas wasn’t the culprit of the crazy pace. I was.
I wish you couldn’t relate, but I’m certain most of you can. If you’re reading this, I’m also going to guess that’s not your heart’s desire. You want an unhurried Christmas – both for your heart and your home.
I do too.
Here are four rhythms (These are not rules and will require personalization on your behalf!) I practice so I truly enjoy the celebration of our Savior’s birth:
Christmas comes with extras – more gatherings, gifts, school programs, traveling to or hosting more people, more food to prepare, etc. The only thing there may be less of is the time you have to get your normal responsibilities done – such as the laundry, the dishes, or the preparation required to take time off from work.
So… what can go? Here’s your permission slip. Stop what you can.
The year after my realization that my crazy Christmas pace was on me, our ministry team prayed and stepped out in faith to rest the last two weeks of the year. We shut down our online store. We set up auto-responders on our email addresses. We didn’t post anything on social media.
You know what happened? We rested. We enjoyed. And not only were we excited to get back to the ministry God has called us to in January, but we saw that He didn’t just sustain our efforts; He multiplied them. Results are His job, and that one faith step gave us a front-row seat to see what He’s capable of doing with simple obedience.
Maybe you need to let go of so much traveling or so much spending. Maybe you need to check your email once every few days instead of multiple times a day. Maybe it’s even just letting go of expectations – either yours or someone else’s.
You’ll be able to enjoy the extra when you stop what you can.
Solitude has nothing to do with you being an introvert or an extrovert. Because when a believer pursues solitude, we’re not really alone. Solitude presses into God’s presence. It ushers in intimacy with our Heavenly Father, desiring nearness and knowing Him more.
Even when your routine is disrupted, find pockets to pursue solitude. Normally, my time with the Lord is in the morning. At Christmas though, I let myself rest as long as my three early risers will let me. On these days, instead of just skipping that time, I enjoy reading my Bible, praying, and journaling at night – to the backdrop of the dual glow from the tree lights and the fireplace. I’m not usually a night person – but I’ve learned to love these few weeks!
A schedule change doesn’t have to equal a priority change. Just as you occasionally get to enjoy vacations to the beach with your family or a date night away with your husband, enjoy the disruption to your routine with a new rhythm with God too.
MAKE THE MOST OF THE MARGIN:
Mornings and evenings are pretty packed in our house – especially when school is in the mix. Mornings require eating breakfast, packing lunches, and getting everyone out the door with backpacks and (hopefully!) matching shoes. Evenings have dinner prep, homework, baths, and as much family time as we can squeeze in before bed. There’s usually not much margin for spontaneity.
Christmas does though.
I don’t know what it looks like in your home. Here are a few ideas:
- Have a family sleepover in the living room, packing in as many Christmas movies as possible.
- Start a family tradition like Advent Blocks to really reflect on Christ’s birth together daily.
- Go for a drive to get ice cream and look at Christmas lights when it’s normally time for bed.
- If breakfast is normally grab and go, maybe you take the time to cook something and eat together at the table.
- Stay up past a reasonable hour playing games and laughing with in-town guests.
- Pick up blankets, gloves, snacks or a small gift each time you shop – and pray for God to put someone in your path who needs it.
- Bake cookies. Or if you don’t love to cook, order Christmas dinner guilt-free.
- Drop off treats and/or thank you notes at your church office on Christmas Eve. It’s a busy day for church staff.
Spontaneously, do more of what matters – and less of what doesn’t.
HOPE NOW AS THEY DID THEN:
A few years ago, my Bible reading plan had me in Revelation at the end of the year. I saw it coming in November, and I debated pulling an audible. I ended up sticking with it, though, and I’m so glad He did – because here’s what I realized as I read in Revelation while also celebrating Christ’s birth:
As surely as He came the first time, He is coming again!
As you celebrate His birth, anticipate His return. Read Luke 2 and soak up all of the wonder pointing to what is to come. Hope now just as they did then.
Consider how Mary treasured up all of the things God was doing around her and pondered them in her heart. That’s the hope we have in Jesus.
Consider how angels filled the sky, declaring Christ had been born. That’s the hope we have in Jesus.
Consider how the shepherds rushed to Jesus after the angels appeared to them. That’s the hope we have in Jesus.
The thrill of hope is not a thing of the past. “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
One day… He will once again appear, and your soul will feel its worth.
One day…the weary world will rejoice again.
And that is why it’s truly the most wonderful time of the year.
From my home to yours, Merry Christmas!
Originally published on Wholehearted Quiet Time by Michelle Myers