God's Roadmap

Now may the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father God, who loved us and in his wonderful grace gave us eternal comfort and a beautiful hope that cannot fail, encourage your hearts and inspire you with strength to always do and speak what is good and beautiful in his eyes (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 TPT).

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Holidays Were Meant to Bring Pleasure, Not Stress into Your Life

Lynn Johnston
I have a guest blogger this week, my friend and writing partner, Lynn Johnston. We are both members of the East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers. Lynn is an elementary school teacher who spends her leisure time as a freelance writer. She is a member of the NWU and the Writing Center.She also is actively involved with the Writers 750 group and enjoys participating in writing contests. Recently, she has been asked to submit four short stories for two anthologies. Two of the stories were published in the anthology Giant Tales-Dangerous Days, that released in June 2014 and the other story appeared in an anthology called Violet Hopes that released in August 2014.

We all tend to do it...set strenuous goals for ourselves for Christmas. We push ourselves to do things that make the holidays more stressful rather than enjoyable. The worst part is we have actually convinced ourselves that we enjoy doing these things every year:
  • I have to be in charge of the company Christmas party....how elaborate can we make it this year?
  • It won't be Christmas if I don't....polish the silver and slave over a hot stove for three hours, make coffee cake....that's my job, bake those complicated cookies.
  • I have to help the grandchildren make a gingerbread house...even though it takes hours.
  • What will the neighbors think if my decorations look shabby? I guess it's time to upgrade mine to the nicer white icicle lights.
  • I have to come up with a fabulous Santa gift for my kids...hope my credit cards don't fail me.
  • We have to buy nice gifts for my Aunt Sharma; she always spends a lot on my kids.
  • Got to go to my sister-in-law's Christmas party and pretend to have a good time.
If any of these statements sound familiar, then you are allowing stress to run your life. Stress is caused by our ego. Our ego is the part of us that worries about competition and what others will think. Sometimes our egos become so in charge that we set unmanageable goals for ourselves that take all of the fun out of the holiday. The ego can decide that Christmas won't be Christmas unless we spend a certain amount of money or a certain amount of time doing things. These images we form in our heads of what Christmas needs to be is our perception. Our perception is a false reality that we deem as the truth. We can convince ourselves that our perception is the way it needs to be. The problem is our perception typically does not match everyone's perception. Meaning, we force ourselves to do things that may not be necessary to enjoy Christmas. The ego is not biblical and does not define Christmas at all. It allows conflict to take over and gives in to commercialism.

What can you do to fix this?
  • Check your EGO! Who cares what others think?
  • Prioritize what's really important and find a way to make it simple.

Put the charge card away.  Never spend more than you can afford.  The ego loves to impress, but that is not what the true meaning of Christmas is about. Some churches recommend that your children narrow their lists down to 3 items (Hence the 3 Wise-men). Where does it say that presents need to be elaborate? Try buying more practical gifts. Ask yourself how long Suzy played with that expensive toy last year. Chances are that $200 dollar toy sits in a toy box or your garage gathering dust this year. You are better off buying things for children that builds their imagination. Do the research.

Stop going to parties for appearances sake. If you don't enjoy being around certain people, why give up an afternoon or an evening for them?  Instead, show them love another way.  For example, giving hand made items or baked goods can be wonderful expressions of love. 

Avoid competing with your neighbors. Decorate to please yourself and your family. The ego loves competition, but that is not what Christmas is about either.  
Nice dinners can still be prepared without complicated recipes. Find out what your family really needs you to do to be happy. Do they appreciate the fact that you slaved over a stove for three hours and spent two hours creating a complicated gingerbread house? Are you happy when it's complete or just relieved that it's done?

Finally, just have fun and enjoy spending quality time with your family! 

Bottom line: Cut the ego and the perception that Christmas has to be complicated. If it's not fun, don't do it. Have a wonderful stress-free Christmas!

Share your ideas for keeping the holidays free of stress and anxiety.