Ready or not!! Here the Holidays Come!
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Well, here we are again! The Halloween pumpkins are put away, Christmas décor has filled the shelves of every store, and there’s one more big Holiday to celebrate before the Christmas music fills the atmosphere.....Thanksgiving.
As Christians we know we are supposed to “Give thanks is all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and “Give thanks to God for everything” (Ephesians 5:20), but I have a sneaky suspicion that many of us are not celebrating the 2020 holiday seasons like we want to be.
Just last week alone, I learned from a friend they were having financial difficulties due to a lay-off. Another friend just let me know of her pending divorce. Someone very close to me is still severely suffering from heartbreak. Many of us are battling health conditions. The news headlines continue about the severe division in the political parties, riots, fires, looting, people getting vandalized because of a sign in their yard, and the list goes on.
Life is hard, draining at times- and pain does not take a break when the Holidays get here. Sometimes pain is more exposed around the Holidays. Sometimes the Holidays can expose our hurts and for some it intensifies the loneliness and it makes it difficult to know how to celebrate with a troubled heart.
Someone asked me last week, "How can you "give thanks" when you don't feel thankful at all?"
First, remember what God has done. As I read through scripture, I see a God who invites us to remember. We are to remember the all things God has done for us in the past and hold onto them at this moment! Especially when our circumstances make it difficult to remember anything good. God knows the highs and lows that hit our life and we need to remember that He will never leave our side.
Next, when you talk with God, remind Him of His promises. This one can feel backwards, right? After all, God has infinite knowledge of everything and doesn't need us to remind Him of anything. (Hint: It's more to benefit our minds.) It's not for God's sake, but for our sake. It is good for us to remember God's promises. It is good for us to stay in communication with God when life has not gone the way we expected it to. Saying God's promises out loud is actually a reminder to us. God invites us into that reminding-prayer relationship with Him. The practice of remembrance can often lead our hearts to thanksgiving for our past and hope for our future.
I had a reader email me and was distraught because she let her temper get the best of her and words were said and her sister no longer speaks to her. She's apologized over and over, with no response. With the holidays coming up, she has become very sad. (She gave me permission to share this...). If you find yourself in this circumstance, let me explain that people are human. We are all imperfect beings. Friends will come and go in your life but family will always remain your family (whether they talk to you or not). Some will have friends or family members that no longer care to contact them. That's their loss. You can't change their actions (or lack of) but you can continue to pray for them. Prayer speaks volumes and intercession is everything! When we pray for them, it brings them close to our hearts.
While God will never forget or abandon us, at times we will feel forgotten. It’s not that God is distant; it’s just that sometimes in our minds, He feels distant. It’s not that God is preoccupied; it’s just that our struggles make us feel like we’re facing the world alone. Sometimes we need a little extra reminder around the holidays.
Please know that when life is painful, it will not always stay that way. Let’s remember God’s faithfulness to us in the past, and have hope that we will again see it in the future.
Third, be positive! The reasons people find this time of year difficult are as varied as the people who are experiencing a difficult time. A positive word or words of encouragement can make all the difference in the world to someone hanging on by a thread. During Thanksgiving, this is a time for family. But due to the pandemic, that might not be possible for you.
If you cannot be around your family, then perhaps you can spend it helping and serving others that are less fortunate. You could really make someone else's Thanksgiving special! And for Christmas, there's something about giving joyfully that puts everything in true perspective. During Christmas, first and foremost, remember the reason for the season. The birth of Jesus Christ! Remember to approach everyone and each situation (positive or negative) from a position of love. Treat everyone with the consideration and thoughtfulness that you wish to receive in return.
Fourth, don't let Thanksgiving or Christmas preparations stress you out! Christmas isn't about presents. It's about the birth of our Savior! Christmas is to be shared with those we love and care for most. Making memories, savoring the time spent with family. But as I mentioned before, this year has different guidelines, so you may not be able to be with family or friends and that's okay! Serve others. There is still plenty of serving opportunities! The bible says "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few". There are ways of safely helping others during this time. The reward of serving is the joy that is instilled when you do so.
Thanksgiving and Christmas day will come and go regardless of the presents purchased and wrapped, the food prepared, or the arrival and departure of our loved ones. Cherish the moment, live in the present, stay positive, treat everyone with love. Like I said, it's not about the presents! People will most likely not remember the exact presents they received in years past. But making memories....well....those last a lifetime! For Thanksgiving, play a "Gratitude game". What are you thankful for, who are you thankful for, what abilities are you thankful for, what about 2020 are you thankful for, (the options are limitless). Put them in a jar and have each person draw one and state theirs out loud. For Christmas, make hot chocolate! Listen to Christmas music or watch Christmas movies! Bake Christmas cookies! Follow your Christmas traditions or make new ones! Thank God for another year under your belt...(A very unique, special, crazy, chaotic year!)... But still, a year with huge reminder that God is still on the throne!
Fall leaves and twinkle lights,