He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
Every single year, Christmas is the most overwhelming season I go through.
In fact, I notice that around Christmastime, I start developing heart palpitations. I've gone to the doctor for them several years in a row with no luck as to what they might be. Recently, I decided that the heart palpitations are a mixture of stress and caffeine, usually in the form of coffee. Needless to say, Christmas tends to be overwhelming, which, in turn, makes my caffeine intake increase.
On top of this, I don't do myself any favors during the busiest time of the year. I rush to buy presents only a couple weeks before Christmas, creating unneeded amounts of stress for myself. Planning for the holiday takes front and center in my brain, creating anxiety. Work gets busier for me, sometimes to the point of overwhelming. I forget to slow down. People seem to get grouchier during the holidays which makes me grouchy in return. Packages never arrive on time, mainly because I didn't order them quick enough. All of these things contributed to unneeded stress over the holiday of Christmas.
But recently, I have been learning that stress, anxiety, and caffeine aren't really doing me much good during this busy season. After all, this is supposed to be a season of joy. So where is the joy?
There is no doubt about it. Americans love Christmas Hallmark movies. Why do you think this is? Because they offer simplistic, happy, and joyous views of Christmas. And if we are being honest, we long for that kind of Christmas too. We don't want to be overwhelmed at Christmas! We want simplicity. We want family. Snowball fights. Hot chocolate. Festive music. A crackling fire. Love. Church services. The Christmas story. Jesus. Joy.
When we make ourselves overwhelmed, grouchy, or anxious during the one season that celebrates the birth of Jesus, we are doing absolutely nothing to honor Him. Rather, we are focusing on ourselves!
When we do this, we are losing sight of why Jesus came to earth in the first place. God says to "Be still and know that I am God," (Psalm 46:10) yet, we don't do this! We instead rush around and make ourselves overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. During the one time of year we get to actually celebrate Jesus coming down as a baby to save us, we turn the holiday into an unenjoyable, stressful, overwhelming, crappy time. Thus, completely negating the beautiful gift God gave us on Jesus's birthday.
It's time to slow down during Christmas. It is time to be still and know that He is God. It is time to honor Jesus during the Christian celebration of His birthday.
Let's do it this year!
Here's some ways we can slow down this Christmas season:
1. Maintain a Bible routine, no matter what.
This one is very obvious. However, it is very practical when put into use. When we sit down to read the Bible, we are forced to slow down, even if it's for a few moments. In fact, you might come to love this routine. It's the one time of your day that you can just chill out with a cup of coffee and a passage of Scripture. Having a routine in this way is crucial. I know one of the biggest arguments that people use to not have a Bible routine is that they are "Too busy." But isn't this the exact problem we are trying to combat, though? The whole point of doing a Bible study is to "Be still, and Know that He is God!"
The second excuse that people like to use to not follow through on a Bible routine is that they don't see any progress or know what they will gain from it. But there is a lot to be gained from reading the Bible. You will experience joy. Freedom. You will begin remembering verses and passages that comfort you in times of trouble. Eventually, you might read a Scripture passage that completely speaks to you so perfectly that it couldn't possibly be a coincidence.
2. Put some time aside to do something super fun or nostalgic this Christmas
I know during this Covid season, things have changed. However, there are still a ton of exciting things we can do to celebrate the season in a fun and nostalgic way. Be creative when you do this. Schedule a large amount of time for it before Christmas day. Wear festive clothes. Put on Christmas music. Invite some friends or family over. Watch a cheesy Christmas movie and drink hot chocolate with your best friend. Spend some time in the snow with your spouse or your kids. Go and look at a Christmas lighting show. Attend a special church function. Whatever you do, make sure you have fun! Remember the joy of Christmas and the wonderful gift Jesus gave us when He came as a baby!
3. Unplug at night
Just for a few minutes before bed. It doesn't have to be anything crazy. Put all electronic distractions aside for a little bit and do some reading, cleaning, painting, or art. Write in a gratitude journal, or update your planner. Or you could pray. The point of this is to be still, slow down, and relax before bed. You might find that you have healthier, more relaxing sleep when you do this.
4. Do an advent or Christmas devotional
It is important to remember why we celebrate Christmas. Though experts say that Jesus wasn't born in December, it doesn't matter. It's still a Christian celebration of His birth. We should never let anything stop us from celebrating it. The Evil One does not want us Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus. After all, it was not a very good day for him. So he will try to stop us from celebrating by making us overwhelmed, busy, stressed, unhappy, depressed, and anything else he can throw at us during this beautiful holiday. That is why it is important to stay grounded in faith. Doing an advent calendar or Christmas devotion will remind us why we celebrate such a beautiful holiday as Christmas.
No matter how we celebrate Christmas this year, it is important to reflect on Jesus. He is the ultimate reason why we celebrate. So let's honor Him this season by being still, and remembering that He is God.