Do You Feel Upside Down During the Holidays?

Some of my past holiday experiences have included driving through snow storms, taking groups to sing Christmas Carols, driving the sound truck for my daughter’s majorette team in several Christmas parades, and one year I dressed up like Santa while driving my little Red VW “Bug” car…I told people that my sled was in the shop for repairs.  When I was 13 years old, I was a shepherd in a live nativity scene and got attacked by the goats who were strangely attracted to the Hi Karate brand cologne I was wearing, (The sheep were unavailable that night).The Christmas I got a bike was special too, I was so excited that I rode it through the house and hit the table where my brother’s new train set was located…there was a major train wreck and as a result… me and my new bike went into “Time Out” mode for a while.The holidays can be the season to be stressful..with so many things to do and people to see and other obligations. Unrealistic expectations have become the ideal, and that makes it difficult to accept the reality of our actual experience which doesn’t always measure up to that of a Hallmark TV Christmas movie where everything is perfect.

For  some who have experienced a loss recently or at this time of the year in the past, Christmas and the holidays can be a stinging reminder of who is not there. The emotions of grief, hurt, loneliness can be overwhelming. Instead of a season of joy, it can be a very difficult time emotionally.

It is okay to recognize these feelings, and to be proactive and to find your personal path to navigate through this crazy time of the year. You don’t need to let this be a time to withdraw completely from normal activities, but instead plan ahead and choose things that you can do within your limitations. Be flexible about your expectations when considering holiday get-togethers, and other activities. Don’t be afraid to change your schedule, surroundings, traditions to decrease your stress. If you, or someone you know that that this Christmas is difficult because of grief, please check out the practical ideas and helpful guidance at http://www.griefshare.org/holidays. 

The Holidays aren’t always “Happy” or perfect but they can be “Joyful” and there is a big difference. Happiness depends on happy experiences. Those experiences, though great, don’t always last long, but joy does….True joy comes from personally knowing God really loves you and is with you. That’s what the real message of Christmas is all about. Immanuel, one of the names of Jesus literally means… God is with us. He is working in our life regardless of our circumstances. Don’t be upside down during this holiday season… Let the Christ of Christmas be the focus of your joy for the holidays. 

 

The Bouncer and the Counselor 

I helped several years at Christmas time with the musical and drama production of Handel’s “The Messiah” at my home church in North Carolina. It became quite an event, that many people enjoyed attending through the years. One very cold December night, we had a full crowd and a lot of people outside the doors wanting to attend the performance. I was asked to “handle” the situation. Wow, how to you “handle”crowd control at “Handel’s” concert??? I went outside to see how many people were there; as I talked to them, I quickly realized none of them had ever attended this event before in the past. As I scanned the crowd… I  saw an elderly woman in a wheel chair. I thought to myself, there is no way I can tell her and the others that they could not come into the church that evening.I prayed one of most frequent prayers… “Lord, help me to know what to do in this situation.” Then, just like that…I had an idea. I went back into the church and got the microphone before the program began and asked how many people had attended this concert before to please raise their hands. I saw many hands raised. Then I explained to them, we had a large number of people outside that had not ever attended this event and asked would they be willing to give up their seat that night so the people outside could attend. They responded well and and we were able to seat everyone. 

After the concert that night, I saw a visiting Pastor from a church in another city. He told me that I “handled” that situation very well. He also said, that if his church ever needed a bouncer, he would contact me first…

The most famous part of the Messiah program is the “Hallelujah Chorus”. The lyrics are from the Bible in Isaiah 9:6, describing Jesus…”And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Our Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” 

I was so thankful that Jesus was my Counselor that night and also countless times since then. He created us and knows more  about us than anyone else. Psalm 139:14 states that “I praise You because of the wonderful way You created me.” Who better to consult with than the One who made us and loves us? 

He also knows what we need regardless of our circumstances. Psalm 46:1 reminds us …”God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” By the way, He is available anytime and anywhere and no appointments are necessary. He knows you and cares for you and you can always talk to Him.