Sitting in my parents bible study group this week, I heard all the stories of stressful Christmas decisions. Who’s house to go to this year, which grandparents you would see on the day, who was going to do the cooking. This, I know, is just the tip of the Christmas stress iceberg. After hearing all that, I was moved to pray for us all – that we can make godly and wise decisions before Christmas that will ensure this can be a day where we celebrate and focus on Jesus and his birth.
So I want to ask you – what is stressing you out or making you dread Christmas this year? Is it the millions of plays/parties/commitments you will have to go to in the weeks before? Is it the cost of Christmas shopping and who to buy presents for? Is it the logistics of the day and who’s house you will go to?
Have you thought of something?
Right. Take it to God. (And your husband too!) And make a pledge to decide on how you’re going to handle those things now to take the stress away from them.
Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), and he especially wants to do that at Christmas. He wants to do the best he can to distract us from what this season is really about and to destroy any chance that Jesus is worshipped during this time. He wants to kill our nice family time and steal the joyous moments with friends and colleagues. So lets pledge to not let that happen – when we know that its Satan doing all that then we can disarm him. How, I hear you ask! Well here are a few ideas that you might want to add to your Christmas pledge this year:
- Pledge not to get annoyed that you are really busy in this season. Instead, rejoice in the busyness! Don’t complain about how many things you have to go to, but instead be present at each one and revel in the people there. Whether its parents at the school nativity play or colleagues at the Christmas party – be with them and remember this is a great chance to build relationships and invest in others.
- Pledge to stop feeling guilty if you can’t do everything! We all know, as I said above, that this season is ridiculously busy. If you are a working parent then you need to make your peace now with the fact that you can’t get along to everything. So this November, sit down and look at your calendar and decide what is feasible and what isn’t. By doing this then you can confidently say to others what you can do (and not feel pressurised into doing more than is realistic) and you can also prepare your children for any things that you can’t get to so they won’t be disappointed. There are so many great things going on, that if your kids have to miss out on a trip to Santa’s Grotto or you have the sacrifice the sixteenth Christmas party for a team at church, its not the end of the world! Prioritise what is important to you and let the other things go.
- Pledge to spend Christmas how you want to. Ok, so this a tricky one and we are always weighing up the feelings and needs of others, but take some time out with your husband to decide where you both want to spend Christmas and how you want to celebrate before the questions and pressure comes from others. Just because you’ve always done something doesn’t mean you always have to do that. Think about the implications for your own mental health and also whether you can truly celebrate Jesus’ birth where you are going. Prayerfully consider the best option for your family. If you give people enough notice and explain the reasons why you have made your decision then you have done your part. How they react is not your responsibility. Believe me – you’ll feel a lot better once you’ve made a decision and it’s sorted!
- Pledge to only spend as much as you can afford. Another big cause of stress is the money Christmas costs. So lets pledge to be good stewards of the money God has blessed us with, set a budget now (if you haven’t already) and don’t be pressurised to sway from it. Just because others are spending lots doesn’t mean you have to. Don’t get drawn into extra present giving – if someone gives you a gift and you haven’t reciprocated thats ok! Enjoy their generosity and be blessed by it. You might be able to go above and beyond another year.
Pledge to make these decisions in advance, so that advent and Christmas can be a joyous, Christ centred season where we can fully take advantage of the gospel sharing opportunities and relationship building it brings. Take control now and don’t let Satan get a foothold in your Christmas this year! Happy *Early* Christmas everyone!