Guest post by my real life friend, Becky Kiser
We tend to lose our minds a little during the holidays. Since we have four holidays–Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years–all in the next 2 or so months, we will likely lose our minds in the midst of the chaos plenty of times! Here are a few game changing steps to help you focus less on the chaos and more on the way of Jesus:
- Social Media is a Facade (and Comparison is a Joy Kill)
We’ve all had that holiday where nothing seemed to go right. No one would behave–adults and kids both included. You were grieving over an empty seat, empty arms, or simply that you still haven’t graduated from the kids table. Stressed by the burden your spending brought to your bank account… again. And then you open up social media and start the endless scrolling and you see it: one perfectly happy family after another. Not only is everyone else’s kids smiling and well behaved but they are even dressed in coordinating smocked outfits that somehow don’t have a single stain on them. And the shame binge fest begins as the scrolling continues.
So, sister to sister, let me tell you something: It’s not real. Yes, that moment is real, but the rest of the story you concocted isn’t. These perfectly posed and filtered pictures are glimpses into someone’s reality, but often time its the very best moment of their reality. We can’t keep doing that to ourselves, nor to those we are scrolling past.
This holiday season choose one of two approaches instead: celebrate or put your phone down. Instead of falling into the shame cycle with social media, let’s be so thrilled for our friend that they had this moment–because we know full well it might be the only one they’ll get that day (and it likely took a lot of bribing and 734 shots to get this one nugget). And if not, if you can’t see it and like it, then put your phone down to silence the voice of shame. Know this too: shame has never been your Father’s tone–correction has been, but never shame.
- Have Realistic Expectations
This will save you hundreds of dollars in counseling, because it took me that much to have a counselor look me in the eyes and say to me: “Becky, you are expecting an unhealthy person to respond in a healthy way. Stop it. You have got to expect of others what they can actually offer you.” This didn’t sit well with me because as a Christian shouldn’t I hope that they will change, that there is the possibility of redemption. Yes! By all means–we shouldn’t lose hope and we should pray with all the faith we have that things will change. And alongside our hope and faith filled prayers we realize that until then, we have to have realistic expectations of what they can offer.
Friend, this has been my biggest game changer! Literally before any holiday, I sit down and journal through who I’m going to be around that season and I ask God to give me realistic expectations for them. I cannot even tell you what this has done for my holidays and my heart. Sure I still let my emotions get the best of me, but that is the exception and not the norm now.
- Take Baby Steps
Oh friends, we can go a little holiday crazy. I totally blame Pintrest, Hobby Lobby, and Target for this one. Imagine that I’m grabbing you by the sides of your face and looking you as directly as one could: Sister, you do not have to do it all. Hear me again. Sister, you do not have to do it all… yes, even all the super awesome and spiritual things. The very first chapter of my book, Sacred Holidays: Less Chaos, More Jesus, is all about taking baby steps because we need this reminder that not only can we not do it all, but we shouldn’t. Instead, let’s take one baby step at a time into making our holidays sacred–holy and set apart. In the book we even give you journaling space to write down all the things you’d like to do, so that you can come back to it later, but the challenge is to implement one to three things each season and do them well. Slow and steady wins this race. This is why it’s so helpful to choose to make your holidays sacred with friends–so you all can learn from, encourage, challenge, and hold one another accountable in taking baby steps.
Bonus Tip for Mamas: Put Your Oxygen Mask On First
You know how the flight attendant tells you to put your oxygen mask on first? Sweet mama friends, we have got to do the same for ourselves when it comes to the holidays (and honestly, all the ordinary days in between). I know you want your kiddos to know the greater meaning of the holidays, worship Jesus, love others well, not get consumed by the ways of this world, and one hundred other things. However, and this is a big however, we can not lead our children places we have not gone. Instead of programming little Christian robots, we must model what it means to follow Jesus. So, my sweet, tired mama, we have to show them what it looks like to wake up early or stay up late, or work through a lunch break to get time in with the Lord. We have to show them what it’s like to gather in community with others even when all we want to do is curl up and binge Netflix. We have to show them why generosity is greater than receiving.
Our oxygen mask on first, our tanks filled up first, then we help them because we aren’t running on fumes, but a full tank of the love of God.
If you found these tips helpful, you will love Sacred Holidays: Less Chaos, More Jesus by Becky Kiser, available where books are sold online and in Lifeway stores. This will become your go-to resource for all things holidays to help equip you for all the holidays–Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Summer, and Birthdays–as well as, give you space to journal your own traditions (and all the things you want to remember not to do again). Plus, there are six bonus chapters that cover all your common struggles during the holidays: Conflict and Drama, Grief, Budgets, Planning, and more! So grab yourself a copy today and grab a few friends, co-workers, neighbors or family members and go through it together as a group. Let’s make our holidays sacred–holy and set apart!