Have you ever pondered why Christmas is filled with so much paradox in our culture? Christ’s birth is second only to his resurrection in the amount of joy it should bring people all across the world. The angels announced hope, peace, and great joy to all people because God came to be with us. Even the commercialization of Christmas is festive with all of the decorations, gifts, and parties. Yet studies show that during the holiday season people feel more loneliness and stress than any other time of year. Christmas began with God giving the greatest gift of all and we celebrate by giving gifts to those we love. Yet we can see the embodiment of greed in the way we overspend and over shop. It is called “Black Friday” for a reason. You might get bruised badly if you don’t get out of the way of a crazy-eyed woman near the sale rack.
I’m no scrooge. I love this time of the year. I love the gifts, the parties, the decorations, the family gatherings, and the celebration. But if we are not thoughtful and intentional, we will get sucked into the absurdity of stress and strain during the time that is supposed to be filled with peace, hope, and joy. Here are a few tips on how to conquer stress and live in peace this Christmas.
I have found that serving someone in the name of Jesus is wonderfully stress relieving. Serve in your church. There will be many people who visit your church this year who don’t have a relationship with Jesus. Your serving will make an impact and will contribute to someone coming to Christ. That is a gift that will last forever!
Do something for someone who is truly in need. You will find that far more satisfying than serving copious amounts of food to glutinous, ungrateful relatives. You will find great joy in serving someone who can’t do anything in return for you.
Give a Gift That Matters
Everyone loves giving gifts to their children at Christmas. That is a wonderful tradition. But why not talk to your family about taking some of the money you plan to spend on each other and help a needy family? It instills character and gratitude. You will discover this act of generosity will take your focus off of your situation and will put it on the less fortunate. That helps especially if you have lost a loved one or have a painful memory associated with Christmas. Your heart will grow more thankful. When we are truly thankful it helps us overcome the stress that comes from feeling sorry for ourselves and turns your heart toward God. It is hard to feel grateful and stressed out at the same time.
Take a Trip
Taking a trip to grandma’s house is wonderful because connecting with family is important. But why not take a trip to a homeless shelter or a rescue mission? Seeing the plight of others can be powerful and will affect your attitude in a positive way. Talk with your family about the many blessings you have. Pray for a missionary. Look at their pictures on Facebook and pray for their family and the families of those they are trying to reach. It will help you keep things in perspective and it will be a blessing to them.
Take some time this Christmas to pray together. Don’t get caught up in the way the world thinks. Remember why we celebrate Christmas. Don’t let Christmas be the only birthday celebration that you forget about whose birthday you are celebrating.
Christmas can be stressful if we forget why we celebrate. God sent his messengers to announce that Christmas brings hope, joy, and peace. Don’t fall prey to silly stress this year. Remember why Jesus came and you will conquer stress this year!