It’s December, and it may be a difficult time for some of us who have lost loved ones, are lonely or get disheartened over the festive season. One person told me that every Christmas day she becomes depressed, as since childhood, Christmas has never lived up to her expectations.
What is Christmas, really?
I have just finished directing and producing a Christmas play with our Children’s Church, which illustrated how excited we get over the secular side of Christmas—the shopping, holidays, parties and fun. The play then asked the question: “Is this really all Christmas is about?”
We went on to tell the biblical Christmas story of Christ and His sacrifice in leaving Heaven, although 100% God, and taking on flesh and becoming our perfect sacrifice to bring us back to the Father through salvation. I trust the message came through loud and clear to both cast and audience.
The Ball Brothers have a stunning song about Christmas, called “It’s About The Cross”. Yes, that’s right, it’s a Christmas song! Its impressive lyrics include these lines:
Its about the cross, its about my sin, its about how Jesus came to be born once so that we could be born again. – Ball Brothers
9 crucial steps to renewing your mind this Christmas season:
1. Keep the central focus of your Christmas on Jesus Christ and make sure it’s a Christian holiday.
2. Lower your expectations of all the trappings of secular Christmas as presented by Hollywood movies and even advertisements. I have an old motto: “expect nothing, appreciate everything”.
3. Keep it simple. Gift giving and great Christmas food is wonderful, but there is something inherently wrong with overspending and going into debt for Christmas presents and parties.
4. Keep your eyes on Jesus. In our loneliness or sadness over loss at Christmas time, Christ himself, the gift of Christmas, calls to us to draw closer to him.
5. Reach out to others; don’t wait for them to reach out to you. Volunteer at your church; find others who are lonely, in hospital, etc. Make Christmas a time to give love. You may be surprised what you get back.
6. Build emotional resilience. You do not have to ‘toughen up’, just build healthy boundaries in your relationships. Know what you do and don’t want and communicate that in a loving way to others. Don’t spite others by cutting yourself off because you are hurting either.
7. Pay attention to what you are feeding your mind. Nostalgic Christmas movies or books may be great, but are they good for YOU? Read scripture and renew your mind with the Word of God and with the right materials for your eye and ear gates.
8. Exercise gratitude. It is a powerful emotion that leads us out of self-pity and into a feeling of well-being. It leads to happiness. Randy Alcorn says, “Happiness doesn’t precede giving and serving; it accompanies and follows it”.
9. Remember, “happiness is dependent not on circumstances, but on perspective, which is determined by our focus” (Randy Alcorn). Where is our focus at Christmas time and at other times?
As you reflect on your life, what are you truly grateful for at this Christmas time?