Holiday Survival Guide Part 1

The holidays can be the best of times or the worst of times.

When things are going well—the bills are paid, the job’s secure, the kids are healthy, our teams are winning—then we cannot wait for the holidays.

But when things are not well—when someone we love is battling illness, we are unemployed, we have lost a loved one, are going through a divorce—then the holidays simply worsen the pain.

For most of us, it is a bittersweet combination of both. Here are some thoughts that may be helpful in navigating the next few weeks:

Being Thankful

Being thankful can be exceedingly difficult. When a handful of Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621, there were few who had not suffered the loss of one or more loved ones to disease or starvation.

They had survived conditions that were brutal, and yet were thanking God for His mercy, grace and providence in spite of their circumstances. Scripture teaches us to give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20), not necessarily for all things.

Choosing to see God’s providential care in the midst of our storms and to be intentionally thankful for His mercy, grace and love in bad times as well as good is one of the surest ways to experience His miraculous peace and joy that passes all understanding.

Focus on relationships

The world tells us to love things, to use people, and that money and things will make us happy. The Bible tells us to love people, to use things, and that our relationships with God and others will bring true joy.

Proverbs reminds us repeatedly that it’s better to have little with peace and harmony than much with strife and discord. Yet the world tells us incessantly that more is better, that a bigger meal or one more dessert or casserole, more gifts, or a bigger TV will surely make our holidays happier.

In reality, they may just leave us exhausted and in debt. What if instead, we focus more of our time and energy into the relationships we have with those we’ll be spending the holidays with?  Jesus said in John 13:35 that people would know that we are His disciples by our love for one another.

What if we invested the time to write down five topics of conversation or questions to ask that would show true interest in the lives of each person that we will spend time with this holiday? Time is the gift that money cannot buy.

Pray. A Lot!

The holidays often add much stress to our lives. Our schedules are off, our healthy routines and diets go out the window and often one of the first things to go is our daily time with the Lord.

In John 15:5, Jesus taught very plainly that as we abide in Him, and He abides in us, that we will bear much fruit. But apart from Him we can do nothing. The meaningful, intentional, daily time that we invest with Him through His Word and in prayer is quite literally the source of our strength.

As we pray for our family, our friends, our guests, ourselves, and even for our enemies, it will be His love for them through us that allows us to glorify and represent Him well and keeps our heart in His perfect peace.

When we neglect our time with Him, we are by definition telling Him that we don’t need Him and will be operating in our own strength. And that never turns out well. Maintaining our relationship with Him as our number one priority—especially through the holidays—can change everything!

Taking the Time to Choose His Best

Each of us makes hundreds if not thousands of choices during a day. That number only increases during the holidays. The good is always the enemy of the best, and it will usually be a good thing that keeps us from the best that God has for us and robs us of some of His blessings.

Taking the time to choose His best will invariably result in His joy, peace, and presence not only for us but for those whose lives we will touch, especially during the holidays.