By Dr. David B. Hawkins, Crosswalk.com
Don’t you wish you had unlimited energy as you approach the holidays, with an ability to meet every situation with vitality?
Yet, that is not the way it is.
As we approach the holidays, this issue becomes all the more important. As we face relatives coming to our home, time pressures and high expectations, it is important to take a solid look at your calendar and make critical decisions.
Many face the holidays with apprehension. They have some sense that things should be perfect. Everyone should be filled with cheer—no matter if the season reminds them of losses. Everyone should get along fabulously—no matter if there have been tensions in the relationship. Every hope and dream should be realized—no matter if these hopes and dreams are beyond reasonable expectations.
You can see that many will experience disappointment. Many will experience less than their elevated hopes and dreams anticipate, with resulting discouragement.
Some have the following questions:
- “Where will I find the time to do what I want to do?”
- “How will we find the finances to do the things we want to do?”
- “How will I interact with that family member I’ve struggled with?”
- “How do I find joy when I’m less than joyful?”
These are just a few of the many questions we might face as we head into the holiday season.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not Mr. Scrooge or a representative of Thanksgiving Lost. Quite the opposite. I have hope and thankfulness, and you can too. I do savor time spent with children and grandchildren. But I also believe in measuring out expectations and energy. I have found that I am my best self when I take good care of myself. I suspect you’ve found the same.
So, on that note, what should we be mindful of as we enter this holiday season?
First, prepare. Don’t let the holidays sneak up on you. Sit down with your mate and calendar and consider how you want the holidays to unfold. Don’t be reactive, but rather be responsive.
Effective preparation will come from a heart of rest, not a heart of frantic preparation. Scripture tells us, “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9-11)
Second, prepare realistically. As you make preparations, prepare with reality in mind. You live where you live, have the finances you have, and belong to your immediate and extended family. Don’t idealize other’s family and expect yourselves to live up to that ideal, false image. Don’t try to pack in more activities than you can handle realistically.
Third, prepare with acceptance. You will be sorely disappointed if you believe your situation should be different than it is. Every holiday is an opportunity for us to assess our situation, the nature of our family and holiday traditions, and reset. We have an opportunity to make things be the way we want them to be, given our situation.
Fourth, prepare with the heart of God. The holidays are an excellent time to weave God’s heart into our celebrations. Thanksgiving calls for giving thanks. Christmas calls for celebrating God (Emmanuel) with us. God cares for every aspect of our lives, including our situation just as it is.
The holidays are an especially great time to be the heart of God to others, whether you invite someone home who needs a friend, volunteer at a food bank, or reach out in your community.
Finally, prepare with blessing. No matter how you find your situation, consider how you have been blessed. The Lord is good to us all: “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:15)
Would you like more information on making your holidays great? If you would like further help, we are here for you. Please send responses to me at [email protected] and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website and learn about our Personal and Marriage Intensives.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/AaronAmat
Dr. David Hawkins, MBA, MSW, MA, PhD, is a clinical psychologist who has helped bring healing to thousands of marriages and individuals since he began his work in 1976. Dr. Hawkins is passionate about working with couples in crisis and offering them ways of healing their wounds and finding their way back to being passionately in love with each other.
Over the past ten years, Dr. Hawkins has become a leader in the field of treatment for narcissism and emotional abuse within relationships. He has developed several programs for treatment of men dealing with these issues and the women who love them. Dr. Hawkins is also a speaker & trainer for the American Association of Christian Counselors and writes for Crosswalk.com, CBN.org, and iBelieve.com. He is a weekly guest on Moody Radio and Faith Radio and is a best-selling author of over thirty books.