The season is upon us. Snow, crisp air, decorations abound. We are nearing that time of year when everyone presses the pause button on life and commitments, and we’re afforded society’s acceptable opportunity to slow down before the year comes to an end.
We all know that getting ready for Christmas can seem a little bonkers. All the shopping, parties, and prep work really do muddy the waters of relaxation preparedness. It can all build up and leave us feeling quite anxious. But it seems to be a tradition we all proudly perpetuate over the generations, and we wear this fret and anxiety as a badge of honour.
How do we mitigate this? I think it starts with understanding what’s actually important. We need to put anxiety in it’s place and use it as a good tool, and not have it be something that rules over us.
Good anxiety can be great. It helps you hustle and get your work done on schedule. It pushes us to assess situations and discover the right approach. It can even be an incredible source of energy if tapped into properly. But it can also be crippling. Especially when it’s left unchecked and allowed to be in charge of our lives, relationships, and situations — and when that happens, nothing good tends to follow.
Putting anxiety in its place is challenging these days. In fact, in some cases it can become our identity — and none of us wants to lose part of who we’ve defined ourselves to be. But having a reality check on why we’re anxious can do a lot to bring about healing. And it can be incredibly helpful to help us unwind and really enjoy the many blessings we have all around us.
There’s a great little snippet of text that comes from Philippians 4:6-7 in the Bible. It says this, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and earnest humility, and with a thankful heart, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
In a very basic sense, this is showing us that before our anxiety gets ramped up, we can pause, rest, count our blessings and then say, “God, I need some help with ___.” And after that, we can simply leave it with Him.
Sure, the first few times will be tough. We want to control the process, define the outcome — quantify it, capitalize on it, package it, and brand it. But in this case, what we actually need to do is trust. We can trust that when we pause, reflect, and pray, God hears our prayers and begins to work in our lives.
As we step into this Christmas season, take a moment and take charge over your anxiety. Be gracious with yourself as you wade through it. Be gracious with others as they endeavour to understand. Give yourself permission to feel deeply while you reflect. And have an extra cookie or two — they’re good for the soul.
Merry Christmas, and God Bless!
James McFaddin is pastor of New Life Church in Castlegar