There’s some truth to this statement, isn’t there?! The Christmas season ushers in busy schedules, added commitments and nearly impossible to-do lists. If we’re not careful, we find ourselves feeling more stress than wonder! But, it doesn’t have to be that way! You and I get to choose. Just three things we can do to experience the most WONDER filled time of the year!
#1 PREPARE TO HEAR GOD SPEAK
First, I believe expectations have gotten so much higher for families to create “perfection” this time of year. Social media feeds this great pressure to have the perfect Christmas card, perfect decorations, perfect children, the list goes on and on. I want to share with you what Joanna Gaines, star of HGTV’s hit show, “Fixer Upper” wrote about this:
“Honestly as a stay-at-home mom, every time I had a moment to open Facebook or Pinterest I would walk away thinking, I’m not doing enough. I asked myself the question: Am I thriving or just surviving? I always thought that thriving would come when everything was perfect and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things are good. It was such a blessing to find myself thriving in the middle of pain. Unless you find a way to do that there’s always going to be this fake illusion that once you get there, whatever there is for you, then you’ll be happy. I worked hard to try to do it all, to try to live up to that Pinterest perfection that only leaves you discontented. I finally realized that life isn’t found on the pages of a magazine; life is found in the glass of spilled milk and in the long narrow hallway filled with socks and soccer balls. I’m learning that getting our intentions right simplifies our decisions in life and changes our perspective and in the end, what it’s all about is thankfulness and contentment.”
To experience gratitude and contentment does not require everything in life to be perfect. That is an illusion. Wonder and joy come when we find ourselves preparing our hearts to hear God speak. It comes when we put Christ at the center of our lives, even in the midst of a mess!
One of the things I find, about so many of us as Christians, is that when it comes to faith we can sometimes be a little lazy. We think the way to prepare for Christmas is getting up the tree, buying presents and going to parties. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with those things, but these things don’t prepare you to hear God speak. Are you taking time to prepare your heart to hear God speak? When we study, pray and open our hearts to hear God speak, we can limit our stress level and increase the wonder level!
#2 FOLLOW THE NUDGINGS…AND GO!
Secondly, when you prepare your heart to hear from God, you must listen to the nudgings and go where they lead! I really believe God will speak to your heart. One great example of this comes from The Wise Men. They had been studying the Scriptures and were looking into the heavens when they noticed the star. They didn’t get a text message, they didn’t get an email, they didn’t get a phone call confirming their hunch. Something stirred deep inside of them and they followed it. When you get the feeling you should walk over to check on an elderly neighbor, compliment the checker or go out of your way to help someone, follow the nudgings of your heart. I have no idea how or what God will speak to you but I do believe God will speak when you prepare your heart. Listen to the nudgings of your heart and go.
#3 GO WITH GRATITUDE
The only way we can experience more wonder than stress this time of year is to center ourselves in an attitude of gratitude. This includes those imperfect, messy moments, too. We sometimes forget to be grateful. Life doesn’t have to be perfect for us to be grateful. We live in an imperfect world with struggle and pain and yet, we still experience God’s grace. We can choose gratitude and allow that to propel us forward. It is my prayer that you will experience more wonder than stress this holiday season. We don’t have to wait for life to be perfect to find joy.