Spiritually Thriving (rather than surviving) Christmas
The Christmas season is here and with it can come a lot of expectations, anxieties, and maybe even some bitterness!
Let’s face it, eating a turkey leg while sitting next to your great Aunt Edna can sometimes be a little trying. Please know that I have not perfected the Norman Rockwell image of our Christmas celebrations and know that I’m not going to hold you to a higher standard than what I’m willing to hold myself to. 🙂
Family gatherings have not always been my cup of tea. Generally, they’ve proven to be a very socially awkward experience for me because I’ve always felt like a fish out of water.
Here’s a glimpse into the differing beliefs of my extended family…
Some are Believers, some are Atheists, some come from a Jewish descent, some embrace man’s tradition and religion, some have been exposed to the Gospel message but don’t want any part of it, some have grown up in the Faith but no longer walk in the ways of the Lord. And some think I’ve been brainwashed and I’m now a part of a cult! Yeah, can you say awkward?
Because of this, it’s easy for me to feel like I don’t fit in. Add to the fact that I’m adopted, which has caused me to wrestle with my identity, the thought of attending a family gathering is not something I naturally look forward to.
On top of all of that, I feel like I lack social graces. I’ve often thought of showing up wearing a shirt that says, “Does Not Play Well with Others,” so I could just clear the air! However, on the back I’d put on it, “But I’m Learning!” 😉
Navigating waters like these as my husband and I were raising up our boys caused us to make some difficult decisions. We needed to do what was best for our family spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Being intentional about this did not always line up with our extended families expectations, nor their understanding. (Insert here- words were said and boundaries were drawn!)
Of course, throughout the years I’ve made some grievous mistakes but I’ve learned a few things along the way.
Sometimes my husband and I didn’t attend the gatherings because we were protecting our children.
Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16
Other times we were in attendance but very quiet, keeping our opinions to ourselves. In other words, I had to keep my mouth shut!
And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Matthew 10:14
Sometimes our extended families traditions were things we didn’t care to partake in or the expectations others had for me was too much for this gal to handle. I had to share my heart about this with my husband because I could see and he could see that I was walking down the path of bitterness towards others.
So this Christmas season I encourage you to share your heart with your man. What is it that you want to do and don’t want to do? What is it that you can and can’t handle? What’s spiritually best for the two of you and your children? Since I was sick for so many years this forced me to lay out what I was capable of. By doing this one simple thing it prevented a lot of issues ensuing in our marriage and family life. It kept us from putting too much on our plates. And if too many things were on my plate, the plate would crack and so would I! That gentle and quiet spirit that I was seeking to have would go straight out the window!
Do not let your adornment be merely outward–arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel–rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:3-4
Dealing with differing personalities and belief systems of our family can put great pressure on us and our marriage. What I’ve learned to do over the years it to just rest in who Christ has made me to be; some will like that person and some won’t!
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
I don’t want to survive Christmas, I want to thrive during this glorious time of year. And in order for me to do this, that may mean I need to say no to a few things.
Need some ideas on how to keep Christ in Christmas? Grab my short e-book, How to Create a Christ-Centered Christmas for Your Kids.
Live a poured out life for Christ,
Need some encouragement and guidance in your marriage? Grab my latest book, Wives of the Bible: 25 Easy Lessons You Can Learn from these Imperfect Women that Will Radically Transform Your Marriage.
Thank you SO MUCH for this entry! I can’t even begin to describe how much I’ve come to realize this is going to be a potential area of some issues as we travel to see our families. Just today, shortly after I had a wee bit of a frustrating conversation with my hubby about my frustrations with a sister-in-law, I had the overwhelming feeling of God just impressing upon my heart to just love on her and although I may have frustrations with her I need to just show her love (even if it starts out as love mostly just because Jesus loves her).
Anyhoo, thank you again Jolene and I pray you have a wonderful holiday season!!!
My apologies, I realized I put 2 thoughts together in the first sentence…what I meant to say was: I can’t even begin to describe how much this resonated with me. I’ve come to realize this is going to be a potential area of some issues as we travel to see our families.
You are welcome, Sarah! Family gatherings are not easy but Jesus is always with us! So blessed to hear this ministered to you.
It’s so great to acknowledge this, Jolene. The Holidays are tough for many people. There are many different reasons for the difficulties. But, you are so right in saying judge what you want to participate in. You don’t have to do it all. Do keep the reason for the season your focus! Love you, sweet sister!!
Hi my sweet sister! So good to hear from you! Yes, holidays can be so hard, but……God is bigger. Keeping the focus on Him will always make a better day!
Thank you for writing this article as I feel it will benefit many including myself. I too have experienced clinical depression since I was 25 after the birth of my first baby.
It helped me to surround myself with uplifting scriptures from God’s Word. I
would place them in the bathroom, on refrigerator in kitchen, and in my car
to remind me of God’s faithfulness even in sickness. When strong enough, I take brisk walks with a friend or by myself. A thankful heart for your blessings helps also. I keep a journal to express my thoughts and a gratitude list. Nutrition
is so important with this illness. I eat tuna or fish to help with Omega 3. Organic is
best if you can manage, even if it is just apples and strawberries. Don’t feel guilty
if your husband helps with household chores as you would do the same for him. (It’s in the marriage contract!) The Bible says laughter is good for the soul so watch a funny movie or read clean jokes. My employer once showed me a black and white picture of a very homely looking granny like the lady on the Beverly Hill Billies and told me,”It could be worse. I could look like that!” God bless all who deal with major depression and keep looking up to Jesus.
Thank you for sharing all of your tips, Cindy. I know they are helpful to any woman who’s having a difficult time in life.
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