Holiday Anxiety: A Path to Peace
Hobby Lobby began displaying all manner of holiday decor months ago. With a mash-up of pumpkins, skeletons, and holly bedecked wreaths, there are constant reminders of the upcoming season of celebrations. However, for many of us, the holidays don’t hold a place of joy in our hearts. Instead, there is a sense of anxiety, and if we are honest, a little dread. However, through acknowledgment of pain and finding shelter in Christ, there is a path to peace for holiday anxiety.
Carrying these burdens into large family gatherings steals from us the ability to see past the turkey, pseudo-thankfulness, and twinkly lights on decorated trees to Christ who walks with us in the mess of complicated situations and comforts our aching hearts. Holiday anxiety is real. Complicated family relationships exist. Burdens of expectation weigh us down. And in a season of smiles and parties, grief lurks like the thief it is and threatens to steal our joy. There is good news, though. You are more than your family relationships, grief, or anxiety; you are beloved of God and belong with Him.
Today, as we count down to the holidays, let’s take a moment to pause and catch our breath. In this space let’s do two things together: acknowledge the grief and find shelter in Christ.
Acknowledge: My holidays do not look like Norman Rockwell’s happy family. Instead, there is brokenness and pain that characterizes my family.
Shelter: You are beloved of God and belong in His family. While brokenness exists, so does redemption and restoration.
Acknowledge: The expectations of others placed on me at the holidays are an unbearable weight of grief and guilt. They constrain any joy that might live in my heart.
Shelter: Our heavenly Father delights to give His children both wisdom and joy. As you seek Him, He will help you set healthy boundaries and live within them free of guilt and with joy in Him.
Unrealized Hope & Dreams
Acknowledge: My own expectations of what the holidays should look like will not be met. Each year I grieve the death of dreams and hopes that are not yet realized.
Shelter: God sees you and your dreams. The desires of your heart matter to Him because you matter to Him. In the face of unrealized dreams and longings unmet, we can find shelter in His presence and delight in Him.
Acknowledge: Surrounded by so much holiday cheer and excitement, loneliness presses in. Am I the only one who is hurting?
Shelter: No, you are not. God grieves with you over the brokenness of the world. The orphan, the widow, the lost. Others walk silently beside you nursing sore hearts and loneliness. He is near to the brokenhearted, beloved one. Take your anxiety and your pain to Him and He will comfort you.
Acknowledge: This year has brought wave after wave of challenge and difficulty. I want to celebrate the holidays, but even the holidays hurt. Will next year be different?
Shelter: Yes, nothing went as expected, but our hope is not in an event, the end of the year, or in circumstances smoothing out. Our hope is in Christ alone, the one who loves us and walks with us on dark, lonely roads.
A Path to Peace
This is not a How-To Manual to Survive the holidays. However, it is a safe place to hold the Holiday hurts in the presence of others who understand the pain. Here we can gain strength to face, yet again, the recurring challenges of loving others from a place of deep pain. We can point our hearts toward God and reject the temptation to fall into bitterness or despair. As we do, He will pour out His love into our hearts and walk beside us into dark places shining the light of Christ.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3: 22-23
Would you like to read more about how to navigate the holidays? Several years ago, my family’s home flooded in a Hurricane. As we gathered to celebrate, I learned about the Gifts of the Season in the midst of difficulty.
I love the Daily Grace Co. From their blog to their podcast, you can find beautiful, Biblically sound content and products. This article by Stephanie Boyles gently helps us cling to joy during the holiday season.
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