‘Tis the Season to Be Stress-Free
- Cindi McMenamin Author of When You're Running on Empty
- 2009 15 Dec
Are you one of those women who dreads the holidays because of all there is to do? Or all you have to buy? Or all there is to eat? Women tend to be stressed out during Christmas time, more so than at any other time of the year. Probably because we're focusing on our finances, or our full schedules, or that inevitable weight gain that happens this time of year. But Christmas time for a woman can be an extra special time of making memories with her Maker, as well as cherishing special times with her family. It's all about refocusing your heart and mind and remembering three principles that can get you through the Christmas season feeling recharged, refreshed, and refueled.
1. Rely on God for your Emotional Support
With so much to do in the coming week, it's natural for us to rely on people around us to notice when we're overwhelmed, offer a helping hand, or just lend some encouragement and support. The problem is, at this time of year, everyone else around us tends to be as busy as we are.
These are the times to go to God in prayer and pour out your heart before Him. Scripture says God understands our thoughts from afar (Psalms 139:2); He is a refuge for us when we need to pour out our hearts to Him (Psalms 62:8); and there is nowhere we can go (physically or emotionally) where He is not right there with us (Psalms 139:7-12). When we look to others to understand what we're going through, we are often disappointed. When we depend on others for emotional support, or a kind word to keep us going, we tend to feel let down. But God, your Maker and Sustainer, knows and understands what you're feeling. Go to Him in prayer. Talk to Him about how you feel. And be refreshed knowing He hears, He cares, and He understands.
2. Refresh Yourself in God's Word
I remember waking up one morning, about this time of year and thinking "I don't feel like facing this day. I don't feel like doing everything on my to-do list. I feel like I'm running on empty."
It was then that I turned to the Psalms in Scripture. I remembered that the songwriters felt many of the same emotions I did, and if I wanted something to fill me up and fuel me up, that would be the place to go. There in the Psalms I noticed a pattern. In all 150 of the Psalms, the phrase "I will" was sung 140 times. Asaph sang "I will mediate on all Thy works…I will remember your deeds" (Psalms 77:11-12). David sang "I will come into your house, in reverence I will bow down" (Psalms 5:7). And when David felt like he was being defeated, he said "I will know that God is for me… I will not be afraid" (Psalms 56:9-11).
The songwriters weren't saying "I think" or "I should" or "I feel." They kept saying "I will." They expressed a sense of determination. That told me something. It made me realize that whether I feel tired or not, whether I am motivated or not, I need to do something to allow God to infuse energy into my day and help me not to feel so run down. And the first "I will" that I incorporated into my life that morning was Psalms 119:16: "I will not neglect your word."
What I found, as I began going to God's Word in the morning - primarily the Psalms - was that Scripture became a spiritual source of energy for me, to get me through the day. Psalms 19:7-8 tells us God's Word is perfect, reviving the soul; it is trustworthy, making wise the simple; it is right, giving joy to the heart; and it is radiant, giving light to the eyes.
I realized then, that if something were available to revive my soul, give me wisdom, bring joy to my heart and brighten my eyes, all in one package or pill - I'd want to take it on a daily basis! That's what God's Word can do for us when we seek His presence and His wisdom through His Word. It acts like a daily dose of vitamins for your heart and soul, to refresh you and get you through your day. Second 2 Timothy 3:16 also says that "All Scripture is God-breathed...." Reading it is like getting a "breath of fresh air" from the Living God - a "second wind" to get you through your day!
3. Remember Your Priority Relationships.
Finally, when we remember what's most important in life -- and at this time of year -- it can keep us from stressing out. We were made to love God and enjoy Him forever. And Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). That means that all you think you have to do, and all the money you feel you have to spend, pale in comparison to the people right in front of you.
As you start to stress, ask yourself this question: What is most important: The project or the person I'm neglecting in order to get it done? The perfectly-decorated house or my children who want me to play with them? The amount of money I spend on someone, or the time I'm willing to spend with them? In your busyness this Christmas, don't neglect the One this season is all about. And don't neglect the loved ones He has given you to share your life with. As you prioritize people over productivity, you'll find it's easy to let some things go.
At this time of year, what better gift to give the Lord Jesus (whose birthday it is) than the gift of a quiet (not stressed-out) heart that says "I love You" and "I love this season in which I can celebrate You!"
December 15, 2009
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and the author of several books including "Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs," "When Women Walk Alone," and "When You're Running on Empty." For more on her books or ministry, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.