It’s amazing how the Christmas season so often becomes the opposite of what it is supposed to be. Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace, yet we often become so busy with so many Christmas tasks that we lose our peace. Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, yet for many people, Christmas brings so much stress and so many bad memories that they actually lose their joy. Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving, yet many people become the most selfish during the Christmas season. They do everything within their power to make Christmas fit their definition of “the perfect Christmas,” caring only about what they can get out of Christmas rather than what they can give.
How do we rise above the societal norms of the quintessential Christmas extravaganza? How do we ascend above the chaos? Here are just a few simple but profound reminders to help us get our focus back on the most important things.
- STOP. When you have a million things on your to-do list, one of the best things you can do to help you get everything done is to do nothing. So, before you jump into your busy to-do list, just stop for a few minutes, a half hour, even an hour, and meditate upon the greatness of God and the blessings He has bestowed. Give Him thanks for what He has done and how He has worked. Pray for the needs of others around you. Praying for others is a powerful way to help get the focus off of ourselves and directed toward others around us. Take in the decorations. Observe the birds outside your window. Whatever you do, just take some time to spend in solitude. Practice waiting on the Lord, and see what He will speak to you.
- LOOK. Once you have taken that time to stop and reflect, then move forward with your day. Those things on your to-do list still need to get done, but hopefully at this point, you will be able to go about doing those things with a different perspective. Using this fresh perspective, take time to look around you. Specifically, look for needs that you can help meet. Look for opportunities to bless people. Whether the person is your best friend or a stranger on the street, I can guarantee that when you look for opportunities to bless people, you will find them. Oftentimes, these opportunities come in unexpected ways. Look around. Look up. Look out! You never know whom you may encounter or what situation the Lord may place you in. The more you look for ways to bless and encourage, the more you will begin to focus on others instead of yourself.
- LISTEN. Finally, once you have stopped what you’re doing and looked around for ways to help, you then can practice the long-lost art of listening. During the holidays, it’s so easy to get caught up in so many sounds and noises around us that we don’t actually listen to what is important. This Christmas, when people speak to you, practice the art of actually listening to them. Not pretend listening or politely nodding your head while actually tuning the person out, but truly listening. It’s amazing what you will learn when you genuinely listen to what people are saying. As you listen, specifically listen for prayer requests the person may have. Even if they don’t call it a prayer request, you will know when they mention something that you can pray for. It may surprise them when you respond, “Can I pray with you for that?” While it could make some nervous or uncomfortable, I believe responding in such a way will ultimately bless people and open doors for further helping them. But in order to do this, you have to listen.
I sincerely hope this short list of helpful hints will be beneficial to you as you ascend above the chaos and confusion that often can seep in at this time of year—or anytime, for that matter. As I was writing, I realized that I was preaching to myself considerably. I certainly need to work on stopping, looking, and listening much more often. Thankfully, God’s mercies abound, and He is so kind in giving me reminder after reminder to bring my focus back on Him. May He ever continue to teach you and guide you as well. Merry Christmas and God’s blessings to you!