We are in full-fledged Christmas mode. The tree is up, decorated and topped with a Santa hat. Our son was home from college at Thanksgiving and the weather was beautiful so why not trim the tree the same weekend we are giving thanks!
This is a busy time of year and we can sometimes be overwhelmed by the lists and lists of things to do. I try each year to eliminate, simplify or pare down what we’re doing. Sometimes it works and other times it’s just better to reason and accept the fact that for a little over a month things are just a bit more hectic. Even if we simplify, there’s always added events. It’s the nature of the season.
- Kid’s productions and concerts
- Adding family/friend events,
- gift-shopping/wrapping/preparing and giving
And that’s just the basics. Add in the particulars of your life and the daily grind of normal and you’ve stirred up a combination for busy living.
I’m not saying, “Don’t do it!” because all those things are a part of the season.
So instead of feeling frantic and overwhelmed, we can switch our focus.
- Kid’s productions and concerts —- Having kids tell us the Christmas story always brings tears to my eyes.
- Adding family/friend events —- Time with others fills the everyday normal with bonus moments of joy.
- Decorating —- well, for me that’s always a double bonus. I love creating; bringing beauty and design to my home and cozy spaces. (This brings me joy)
- Gifts —- with the right perspective and balance it’s a great way to express the gift of grace given to us so that we can give to others.
So how do we keep the right perspective and balance without losing our mind in the midst of added mayhem?
I believe it is found when we focus our attention on the moments that matter.
That’s going to look different for all of us because we live in different seasons with different demands and schedules but here are some things I have found helpful.
Begin the day with a quiet moment.
- Sometimes this is as simple as lying in bed a few moments longer (without falling back to sleep…) and focusing towards what is good on the schedule. Not on what is overwhelming, stressful or dreadful but ONE thing I can be thankful and looking forward to. Philippians 4:8 says, “Always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things.” (NIRV) – Begin with a quiet moment of thinking about one good thing for the day. It’s a good perspective switch.
Choose an Advent practice.
- This does not need to be super-involved or overwhelming. There are many ideas and ways of doing this out in the internet, Pinterest world. Pick something that suits your life pace and season. This can be as simple as lighting a candle during sometime of the day and whispering a prayer. The whole idea of Advent comes down to focusing our attention on the coming of Christ. Advent means – a coming into place, view, or being; arrival. Making space in our day for remembering Christ’s coming gives us a good place to re-center our thoughts. Some Advent activities just fill up your schedule with more. I’m not really into that because my schedule is full enough. I have found reading through a simple Christmas devotional or Advent book is quiet and settles my thoughts into refocusing me in a good way. The book I’m reading this season is Waiting Here for You by Louie Giglio. (It’s available as in e-book for $0.99 right now.) If you have one you are using, let me know in the comments, I would love to hear about it.
- Emotions can run the highs and lows of a roller coaster ride through the season. Tension in the store line, unmet expectations and a never-finished “to-do” list can build anxiety and frustration in us. I have found the wider the gap between my expectations and my reality, the greater my frustration. When my reality and my expectations line up closer to one another, my frustration is less. For example, instead of expecting to zip through the store in a speedy manner like I would at 10:30 am on a Tuesday in April, maybe I should move my expectation closer to what my reality actually will be on a Saturday afternoon shopping experience at Wal-Mart in December. And then if my reality turns out to have a better ending than I expected, my frustration level is low and instead of fuming and running out of patience, I’m happier with my shopping experience. When we adjust our expectations closer to our reality, frustration won’t hijack our season.
Colossians 3:15-16 reminds us to: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… Let the message of Christ dwell among you…” Even though we find ourselves in a hectic paced season, we don’t need to live in a hectic paced way. Placing our focus on Christ at the beginning of the day and throughout this season allows us to experience a more peaceful season and keeping the crazy out of Christmas.