Usually, I love kicking off the holidays with Thanksgiving as I focus on gratitude for the life the Lord has given me. Unfortunately, last Thanksgiving ended like a bad case of indigestion, totally sour. As I sat down at the dinner table to dive into my favorite part of the meal, the turkey and dressing, criticism was hurled across the table like a dagger, piercing my heart. I sat there stunned and deeply hurt by the words directed at me but I did what the Lord would want me to do. I responded with grace.
I have to admit the most wonderful time of the year can be a challenge as so much of it revolves around the intermingling of family. The strong personalities, the cutting remarks, and the crazy dysfunction can be too much to bear. Yet, I have a heavenly father who bears all things with me and gives me the strength, love, and wisdom to thrive, not just survive the holidays.
Here are 8 GREAT biblical ways to THRIVE during the Holidays:
1. Ephesians 6:3 says, “Honor your Father and mother, and it will go well with you.” Let’s think of the word honor as treating others better than yourself. One way we can do this is by sacrificially giving of our time, talents and treasures to those that we may feel are undeserving. Think of simple ways to honor the difficult people in your life during the holidays and love like Jesus did. Pick up the phone to call, write an encouraging note or even stop by to visit them. It will go well with you!
2. Practice gratitude daily. The scriptures tell us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Th 5:18). In your quiet time with the Lord, make a list of 5 things you are grateful for each day during the holidays. Gratitude can be a salve for the soul and a quieting to dark thoughts this time of year.
3. Before entering any type of gathering during the holidays, pray and invite Jesus to accompany you. Jesus is with us wherever we go (Matthew 28:20), but take time to acknowledge His presence. You will be much more likely to say, think and act in ways that are pleasing to Him if you are aware He is with you.
4. Put your efforts forth in being the hands and feet of Jesus. Serve others and explore ways to be present for those in need this season. Self-pity, isolation, sadness, or feelings of loneliness all dissipate when we are plugged into serving others. This could be as simple as serving Thanksgiving dinner at the homeless shelter to adopting a less fortunate family for Christmas.
5. Be in the word on a daily basis. It may be tempting to let your bible study and quiet time go to the wayside during all the “busyness” of the season. On the contrary, this is the time of year when we need to cling to truth, refresh our souls in the Lord, and take in God’s word to refuel and keep our mind on things above. (Phil 4:8)
6. Practice rest. With all the many things vying for your attention and time, take periods of rest for spiritual, mental, and physical renewal. Jesus encourages us in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Try meditating on scripture, taking a power nap, or being outside in God’s creation while being still.
7. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5:44 to “Pray for those who persecute you.” Pray for family members and gatherings in which you feel will be difficult or challenging. If you experience anxiety, dread or resistance to being with certain people during the holidays, pray in advance for them. Pray for things you would desire yourself such as the Lord’s favor, love, joy, and good health. This will soften your heart while cultivating peace.
8. Celebrate what the holidays stand for, Jesus! Whatever our feelings are about the holidays, we can focus on what and who they are all about. Our loving Lord and Savior, the prince of peace, our sin sacrifice who came into the world so we can be free from the bondage of sin and have eternal life with Him. Shifting perspective from ourselves to Him is reason alone to have true hope and joy this season!
Christ has come so we may have life and have it abundantly! (John 10:10) Believers have the mind of Christ and with prayer and some focused effort to think, act and live the way Jesus has called us to, the holidays can be an opportunity to thrive and live life to the full!