When The Holidays Bring Stress & Worry
I've been reflecting on the many things I love about the holiday seasons we've recently entered. I'm reminded of family gatherings, the joy of friends, the warm traditions of each fall holiday, and so much more.
Maybe some of you feel the same way. You have your memories, nostalgia, and fond feelings that emerge with each passing week that leads toward the new year.
I'm also mindful of the many stressors this time of year can bring. Most of us know what they feel like, too. And for some of us, the holiday season brings up complicated emotions, sadness, and perhaps even depression or anxiety.
I'm sitting here at the moment with all of the complications of travel plans before me, the busy schedules of our whole family, and the added stress of work-related obligations, school programs, and so much more.
I need to figure out how to manage all of it gracefully. I'm sure some of you understand this all too well.
When you add in the stresses of stretching budgets, the news of the world around us, and all of the things we can't control, the holidays can become more of a burden than a blessing for some of us.
So how do we move beyond stress and worry to peace and joy?
The far-too-simple answer is this: We begin by resisting the temptation to allow our feelings to define us and to let stress run our lives. And then, we work toward peace by focusing on what is good, beautiful, and true.
I recently read a wonderful Chinese proverb that speaks to this so beautifully:
That the birds of worry and care fly above your head, this you cannot change. But that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.
The Apostle Paul wrote about handling care and worry in a letter he sent to one of the early churches he planted in Philippi. Ironically, he wrote the letter while chained to a guard awaiting trial in Rome.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
The part of that passage that grabs me is the phrase "every situation." This means that no matter what is happening or we might be feeling, we have a resource that can lead us to peace.
Stress and worry can't be allowed to build nests in our hair, as the proverb teaches us. We can let it all go. We can speak to God, sharing everything with the confidence that God's peace can be ours if we are willing to embrace it.
May it be so for all of us. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us now and always. Amen.