It’s easy in the holiday shuffle to lose the joy and see dollar signs instead. Somewhere in the traditions of the time, cultural pressures to consume and purchase have overshadowed life giving festivity and celebration.
It’s time to return to the joy of the season and restore sanity and peace to our homes and relationships. Here are 7 things to keep in mind this holiday season to keep the joy alive.
Remember These 7 Things This Season to Keep the Joy Alive
The Light of the World is Jesus
Regardless of where you fall on the path of tradition, the fact is that all day, every day, all the live long day, year-round, we have a Savior that came into this world, for whom we can always and constantly give thanks. Jesus is the reason for our constant ability to experience and welcome in joy!
Joy is not found in circumstantial pleasantries, like receiving a gift you wanted, eating a slice of pie, or other temporary delights of the senses. Rather, JOY is a deep, abiding celebration of the beauty all around us that we get to enjoy unencumbered by the weight of hopelessness, purposelessness, painful pasts, or sinful struggles.
It is the reality of grace that melts into the fabric of our beings so much that we live each day in the celebration of the freedom we have available to us from every.single. struggle that we may experience. The Light of the world has come into the world, and this Light is now indwell within each of us who call upon His name in praise and worship.
May we not ever forget to celebrate the Light, ALL year round, and each day onward.
It is Better to Give than to Receive
I am not a fan of obligatory giving, as it often strips the virtue from the gift. This is why it takes that much more energy and intention to truly seek out creative and fruitful ways to bless and honor others with gifts. When it comes to friends and family, it is okay to keep things simple. If we don’t want the season to be all about consumerism (which I know I surely don’t…at all), then we must reel in the expectations of gift-giving and make them more about fellowship and connection.
The area I truly think this idea can be overturned is through generous giving to those in need. THIS is where I think turning on the LAVISH and abundant gifts serve the greatest purpose, but we must seek out ways to fulfill this kind of giving.
I know friends and family who have seen a homeless man around Target and then taken them inside to walk through the store and buy every item they needed. THAT is the heart of the Light of the World. We need more of THAT. It is the greatest application of Love and Giving that we are called to do.
Let us check the expectations of how “giving” is interpreted today against the Word to see how our Abba really wants us to shine Light into this dark world.
People are NOT the enemy
I felt it would not be accurate to fail to include several interpersonal elements in a holiday season post. This is the time for LOTS of parties and gatherings, which means lots of opportunity for stress, strife, and confrontation.
A critical point to remember at all times is that people are not the enemy. Though we may disagree at times with each other, it is still of the utmost importance to show respect and kindness.
Let’s face it, there are a LOT of different camps of thought and belief surrounding this time of year. Remember that your job is not to control others or tell them how to live their lives, but rather to practice self-control and obedience to the things that the Lord has taught you.
Treat others the way you want to be treated. Practice healthy boundaries.
Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
As you engage with family and friends, do a kindness by listening with intention. As you work to show respect and kindness, it is also important to try to understand the viewpoints and perspectives of others. Rather than work to try to argue or debate how other people think, listen with the goal to understand the other person, even if you disagree.
This single discipline alone is so counter-cultural at this point in time. Argumentative confrontation full of contention and spite fill our news feeds, radio shows, news channels, etc, but this is NOT the way of engagement for the people of God.
“Come, let us reason together” is the heart of God. Sow the seeds of respectful engagement, and reap the blessing of receiving the same back in time.
You Don’t Have to Agree to Be Kind
This piggybacks onto the other two points, but kindness is not dependent on rightful treatment from others. We are to treat other people with kindness because they too are humans, made in the image of God. It is simply the right way to live and engage.
I know that it is tempting to react to unhealthy encounters, or frustrating scenarios, but this does not bring Light into darkness. Rather, it simply fuels darkness with more darkness, which does nothing but spur evil onwards.
If we want to maintain Light and Joy in this day, we must do our part to bring it forward through our words, thoughts, actions, and heart. Whether or not you agree with another person, treat them kindly because they are also fallible humans who have a Father who loves them and wants what is good for them.
If All Else Fails, Face Persecution with Christ-like Faith
Naturally, though, not everyone will respond in accord with kind treatment and a heart to understand. Some people may simply see this as a chance to lash out even more. In the event of persecution, stand firm in the knowledge of your place with God.
The fiery darts of the enemy will come more freely from those who are led astray by his lies. When persecution comes, remember whose you are and that your value is not found in the approval of man. Pray for the other person with whatever prayers the Lord puts onto your heart at the moment.
And, above all, hold tightly to the Lord while you endure the darkness of the day.
No Matter What, Give Thanks
As we remember the Light that was brought into this world, and come together for varied holiday celebrations, traditions, and festivities, may we keep our hearts looking upwards in thanks to the One who provides all reason for Joy and delight.
Whether your home is lavish and covered with twinkling lights, or meager with minimal flourishing, give thanks for all that the Lord has given you and continue to seek Him to enjoy greater blessing. There is ALWAYS something for which to give thanks, even if we must step outside of our homes or our relationships to look around at creation to see it.
Look upwards and connect with the embrace of your Abba. HE is the reason we can experience joy every day of the year.