The Christmas season is so, so exciting. It gets us in touch with so much that is important: the message of God’s gift of Jesus and His redemption, the importance of family, relationships, gratitude and love, and so much more.
“Living in collaboration with Me is the way to instill meaning into your days.
Begin each day alone with Me, so that you can experience
the reality of My Presence.”
Jesus Calling, December 14
At the same time, it can be fraught with pain and conflict. Sometimes holidays bring out the grief of what someone has never had, or what has lost been or destroyed. Longings go unmet, and past pain is often revisited.
Then there is the opportunity for old pain and patterns in toxic relationships to be repeated, as families get together and some people find themselves around hurtful family members they can avoid the rest of the year.
Also, we can get swept up in the sheer magnitude of activity. We go places and do things that really do not add value to what the holiday is supposed to be about: God, key relationships, community, memories, family, and the like. Not to mention the commercialism that can drown out everything that matters.
So, as this Christmas season approaches, consider these guiding questions:
– What are my few most important emphases that I want to have this year? How will I make sure those go in the calendar first?
– Who do I want to make sure I spend time with? When? How?
Put those in the calendar first.
– Who will be painful to me? Do I have to see them? If I do, how will I handle it? Do I need a “wing man” to stay by my side when I see the hurtful person at that event? Do I need to practice what I will say if they are hurtful? Do I need to get clear with my boundaries around that person beforehand?
– What obligatory activities do I want to avoid for higher purposes?
– Whom do I want to serve this year and give to? How will I do that?
– How will I connect with God and the true meaning of Christmas?
– Is there anyone I want to include who has no one else to be with?
– Do I need to have some conversations to clear the air with someone I will see before the gathering? Are there some ground rules to set up?
– If I am fearing being alone, what can I do to make sure that will not happen?
– What eats up valuable time and energy that you do not want to lose this year?
There are other questions you might want to ask yourself. But here is the main issue: Christmastime can be in control of you, or you can be in control of yourself through the Christmas season.
“Hold My hand in deliberate dependence on Me,
and I will smooth out the path before you.”
Jesus Calling, December 14
Create intentionality, purposefulness, and good boundaries, and have yourself a Merry, Merry Christmas!
Dr. Cloud is providing Jesus Calling readers with a special Boundaries offer.
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Dr. Cloud is an acclaimed leadership expert, psychologist, and best-selling author. His book, Boundaries For Leaders, was named in the top five leadership books of its year. As a graduate of Southern Methodist University, Dr. Cloud completed his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Biola University, and his clinical internship at Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. His philanthropic interests lie in homelessness in the inner city, as well as missions in the developing world. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Tori, and their two daughters, Olivia and Lucy.