As Thanksgiving and Christmas are quickly approaching, it is all too easy for me to sink into a state of stress paralysis.
The to-do list goes on for miles, and I start to pile more and more “must do” tasks onto myself. I start to dream of:
- making gluten-free pies for Thanksgiving,
- having homemade elaborate gifts for everyone in the family,
- making special Thanksgiving and Christmas crafts with the kids,
- curling up with lots of fun picture books and hot chocolate as we watch snowflakes falling and listen to Christmas carols,
- bundling up and Christmas caroling at everyone’s house we know (and some strangers too),
- attending every live nativity, family gathering, or Christmas party I can find,
- taking a beautiful, coordinated family photo and mailing cards to everyone and their cousin,
- and decorating the house from top to bottom with seasonal cheer.
I’m sure you get the idea and might even have a much more lengthy list than I do.
As I stare at my ever-growing list, I get ready to quit before I even start. The stress paralysis weighs so heavily that I want to go find that eagle’s nest live feed and hide in a closet. (Can you tell I watched Moms’ Night Out recently?)
I’m losing sight of where I should be.
What do I want from Thanksgiving and Christmas? How do I want to spend my time? I know that God doesn’t want me in a state of paralysis. I have lost focus when I’m staring at the to-do list.
What does God want?
He wants me to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks.” How can I choose this instead of stress paralysis?
How can I “rejoice always” this holiday season?
- listen to uplifting, godly music on the radio
- spend time with the Lord alone and with my family even when facing a large to-do list
- praise the Lord for what He has given: His Son, my family, my home, food, etc
What might “pray without ceasing” look like in the next month?
In this context, I must constantly, repeatedly give my to-do list over to the Lord. I want to look for God’s “best yes” moments He has for me instead of the endless obligations that I let others place on me instead. Some “best yes” moments might include how I treat strangers I run across in long shopping lines, local food bank ministries, or spending time with my children instead of focusing on everyone but them. I don’t want to be buried in my own “to-do” list and miss what God has in mind for me.
I also want to pray that I would continually show love to my family while trying to complete my list. The perfect Christmas cookies and cards, beautifully wrapped presents, and carefully made gifts are no substitution for love. In fact, they are more like burnt crumbles and trash (to “loosely paraphrase” 1 Corinthians 13).
What can I do to truly have the mindset of “in everything, give thanks”?
I know that when I look for the little things to be thankful to God for each hour and each day, I can feel the stress paralysis just lift off my shoulders. I am blessed – as a child of the one true King, as a wife and mother to a great family, as the homemaker to a beautiful home filled with food, clothing, and far more possessions than we ever need.
My goal this week (and all the way until Christmas) is to keep looking for those things for which I can be truly thankful. Instead of focusing on the Thanksgiving dinner or the Christmas presents, I want to notice the little blessings all around me. If I get my list done but miss all the special moments in the meantime, I’m pretty sure I’m missing the point.
I don’t want to spend the next month in a state of stress paralysis. Instead, I am choosing to rejoice, pray, and give thanks!
In case you think I will accomplish that crazy “to-do” list I mentioned at the beginning of this post, please don’t. My lists in my head far exceed what I can or will actually accomplish.
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