Having A Peaceful Holiday Season Is Possible
We see a glamorized vision of the holidays plastered all over modern media. Smiling families in commercials exchange thoughtful gifts, make joyful memories, and present a practically perfect celebration for us to ascribe to. However, we know that most of the time, our holidays don’t look like that. Many of us find it hard to be around extended family for long periods of time. Some of us don’t even see them at all.
The holiday season doesn’t have to be a painful reminder of damaged relationships and regret. It doesn’t have to be a time where you find yourself walking on eggshells and counting down the minutes until you get to escape home and not see your “loved ones” for another year. God cares about you and your family and He would see you have a peaceful holiday season this year, and every year!
Peace To You
You may have never thought about the holidays as not being peaceful. Maybe your family is relatively happy and can stand to be in the same room as one another. However, consider this: do you look forward to this time with your loved ones? Or do you find yourself relieved when it’s over? A lack of peace can appear in multiple forms, such as feeling anxious leading up to the event, expecting to be criticized and preparing defenses, or even outright fearing being around certain individuals. None of these examples are God’s will for you.
Don’t settle for less. Don’t fall into the trap of saying, “It is what it is.” Instead, seek after what God wants for your holiday season. What is His will for you, your loved ones, and your relationships?
People Make It Challenging to Be Peaceful
We may find it child’s play to be peaceful on our own, when no one else is around, but certain people just know how to push our buttons. It’s reminiscent of Provers 17:1, which says,
Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it
Than a house full of feasting with strife.
When there’s strife, there’s no peace. Sometimes it creeps up on us and sometimes we can see it coming, but we all know how miserable it is to be in a space with a lack of peace.
Fortunately, God’s Word contains practical principles we can employ to ensure we have a peaceful holiday season.
Prepare Yourself For Success
Just as one would gird themselves with armor leading up to a battle, so should we also equip ourselves with scripture and Godly principles before walking into an environment we know will be stressful and taxing. Here are a few things you can do to prepare to maintain your peace during the holidays.
What Are Your Goals?
What do you want out of this season? What does God want to do in you and through you? What would be a win instead of a loss for your holidays? Depending on your circumstances, your goals might look a little different, but here are a few we’ve found to be particularly important.
1. How can you be Jesus to your loved ones?
Our goal should be that as soon as we arrive, we are striving to be a blessing to everyone. Ask yourself, “How would Jesus respond to this circumstance?” at every occasion. Consider Colossians 3:12-17, which says,
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Focus on verse 17 especially: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” In every word and deed, we should be honoring God. So that means we should strive to be patient, be generous, and be kind. We must take our focus away from ourselves and onto others, pursuing how we can give rather than receive.
2. Seek to know Jesus better through the holidays.
This goal is based on John 17:3, which says,
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
How can you grow closer to Jesus during the holidays? He is walking through this season with you – present for every difficult conversation, every gift received, every moment, memorable and forgettable. Act as if Jesus was present in the flesh in your home. Lean into your relationship with Him, especially when you face a challenge that threatens your peace. Seek after His heart and let Him guide you away from pitfalls and towards Godly thinking. When you reach the end of the holidays, your relationship with God should be stronger and you should feel refreshed, not drained.
3. Pursue loving fellowship with family and friends.
It’s true that you can’t choose your family, and sometimes they are just plain hard to get along with. Remember that the only person you can control is you. It’s a waste of your time and energy to stew over others’ words and actions and try to change them. Instead, let the love of Christ color how you treat them. He is the One Who has the power to change them. In addition, don’t be discouraged if things aren’t perfect. Often, God affects change in a slow, methodical fashion. Your relationships may not get better overnight, but as you pursue God and His will, they will get better over time. Thank God for every victory, however small. Focus on the good over the bad and enjoy His supernatural peace amid the chaos.
Remember that your loved ones most likely don’t share your goal of a peaceful holiday season. You have to be prepared to protect the peace in your own life, regardless of whether anyone else is helping you or not. Their actions don’t determine your peace because you have God on your side. Learn to rest in Him no matter what.
4. Embrace the joy of celebrating.
If you’re trying to break the cycle of difficult holidays, try something new! Look for festive community events in your area, volunteer with a charity and give back to the community, watch a Christmas movie (or several!), or start a new family tradition. The holidays are supposed to be fun! Lean into it and enjoy yourself.
The enemy wants to steal the holiday season from you. Maybe he already has, but you just have to take it back. Seek God for what He wants you to do differently. There is so much potential for joy, so many opportunities to make memories you can look back on for years and years. Be willing to put a little extra work in, because it’s worth it.
5. Build relationships.
What relationships in your life need a little work? It doesn’t have to be a big change, it can be as simple as leaving a tin of homemade Christmas cookies for your neighbor whom you haven’t spoken to all year. Strive to make a change for the better, however small.
6. Transfer traditions to the next generation.
Traditions are a big part of Christmas. If you don’t have any at the moment, this year is the year to start! These can be simple, such as having your family sit down together and play your favorite card game for an hour, or generous, such as volunteering together at a soup kitchen. No matter what you choose, remember to be intentional and do it together. Maybe it takes you a few tries to find what you and yours like, but don’t give up! The end result is well worth the process leading to it.
Another thing to remember is to keep Jesus at the center of it, whatever you choose. Deuteronomy 4:10 says,
Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’
If you have children, these traditions will be something they always remember. Be conscious of that and weave giving glory to God and being thankful to Him for His blessings that year into whatever traditions you choose. Bring it back to Him at every opportunity. Your children will remember!
Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy
If you are wanting to have a peaceful holiday season, there are goals you should avoid as well. When we are self-focused instead of God-focused, we cut ourselves off from His help. When we try to achieve these selfish goals, we only have access to our own strength. Philippians 2:13 AMP says,
For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.
To truly achieve a peaceful holiday season, we need to remain submitted to God’s will so we can rely on His strength and definitely see victory. If you notice that the holidays leave you drained, irritable, or relieved they are over, those are key signs that you are not relying on God, or the goals you pursued were not the right ones.
The Wrong Mentality
The wrong mentality when pursuing a peaceful holiday season is expecting that everything must go and be exactly as you want them to. Essentially, this means you expect everyone else to cater to your vision of the holiday season. You have this Hallmark moment in mind and anything outside of that is unacceptable. Maybe you always want to be the one to host Christmas dinner and serve food only you like, or the Christmas tree can only have certain ornaments or it’s ruined, or your children have to open their presents one at a time or they don’t get them at all.
The problem with pursuing this mentality is Christmas will never be perfect. By putting this enormous amount of pressure on yourself and those around you, you steal the joy of the holiday from everyone involved. If you find yourself slipping into this desire for perfection, ask yourself, “Who am I trying to impress? What is the real reason behind my motivation to be perfect?”
Maybe we crave the complements of a house well-decorated or a meal well-prepared. However, in that case, we are placing our identity in the approval of others rather than the approval of God. If our focus is on serving our loved ones instead of getting the Christmas we want, we are acting out of love and the holidays will automatically be better because of that simple reason. God will assist you in everything you do and you will experience true joy in the doing of it.
We Are Called To Be Selfless
Read Philippians 2:1-4:
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
God isn’t asking us to neglect our own desires, but rather to make sure that others come first. Wanting to have the “perfect Christmas” should never overshadow the relationships in our lives. Even if you achieve everything you want, it will be a hollow victory because you will have given up your peace and joy to get it. Just relax! Christmas won’t be ruined if the turkey is burnt, or one of your gifts is late in the mail, or Aunt Judy is late for Christmas Eve dinner. When you let all that go and pursue God’s will instead, you’ll find the peace and joy you were looking for waiting for you.
Practical Tools For You
Keep these key practices in mind when you’re striving for a peaceful holiday season. God always equips us for success and here are some of the tools He has already provided you.
This must be more than a simple five minutes in the morning, or a simple blessing before Christmas dinner. When you are aiming for a peaceful holiday season, you need to be consciously removing all distractions, putting down your phone, turning off the tv, and prioritizing getting in your fellowship time with the Father. Read Ephesians 4:29, which says,
Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but if there is any good word for edification according to the need of the moment, say that, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
and Philippians 4:6, which says,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Instead of complaining when things don’t go how you want them to, pray. Even if you have to step away and take a moment away from your loved ones, pray. Seek God and then watch Him show up on your behalf. Let Him empower you to get past that moment and still have a wonderful holiday.
Serve Instead of Control
Galatians 5:13 says,
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.
Strive to have an attitude centered in how you can be a blessing to others. Go out of your way to serve. Maybe that means you jump to do the dishes after the meal, or you offer to run to the store for a crucial item that had been forgotten. You might even notice others around you joining in to help as well.
God’s presence produces peace. We have an active part to play in inviting peace into our homes. We aren’t doomed to try and function weighed down by strife, there is a way out! James 3:16 says,
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
Jealousy and selfish ambition produce strife. When we only pursue our own interests over the interests of others, only bad things can be produced.
So what do we do if we notice strife in our home? James 4:7 contains the formula to get free:
Submit therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Broken down into three steps, the formula looks like this:
- Submit to God
- Seek God in prayer
- Repent for where you chose selfishness
- Identify peace as your priority
- Resist the devil
- Rebuke him in Jesus’s name
- Reiterate that you choose peace over selfishness
- Watch the devil flee
- Feel God’s peace fill you
- Experience God’s peace in your situation
This formula is like a reset button. At any moment, you can escape strife and recenter yourself in God’s peace. Do this as many times as you need, but you’ll find that you’ll need it less and less often as you habitually choose peace over selfish desires.
Go Have A Peaceful Holiday Season
Hopefully, now you feel well equipped to have the holidays you want instead of the holidays you feel doomed to have. If you want learn even more about peace in every area of your life, not just around the holidays, please check out our book, Powerful Peace.
From everyone here at God’s Best For Your Life, we wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!