Many of us know all too well how the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can rob us of the very thing it is intended to celebrate. I mean, of course, the craziness of this time of year can deplete us spiritually and leave us missing our intentional time with God. It is my joy to welcome to the Redeemed Girl blog my dear friend Kitty Hurdle. She models for me what it looks like to seek first the Kingdom of God, and I know you will be empowered by her words. –Marian
Friends, it’s finally long-sleeved weather here in Mississippi where I’m raising my two kids and ministering to college students at Ole Miss. (Okay, jean shorts and long sleeves, but long-sleeves nonetheless.) I’ve made six loaves of pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and though it’s 83 degrees outside, there’s soup on my stove right now. GAME ON, FALL. Now that Halloween is over, according to Walmart it’s game on for Thanksgiving AND Christmas.
Seasons are changing and the holidays are upon us. With that come loads of transitions. Change is real no matter what season of life you’re in and the holidays bring challenges for each of us. As a college student, you brace yourself for exams and what it will be like to be back under your parents’ roofs with awesome casseroles but crappy curfews. When you’re single, you practice taking deep breaths and responding to the aunt at the dinner table who wants to know whether you’ve found your “someone special” yet. Young moms are trying to figure out if it’s okay to repurpose the Halloween candy as stocking treats and empty nesters are, well, in my mind, they are going to the bathroom without interruption, and they may even be taking long baths. But as I watch my dear friends struggle to care for aging parents and navigate parenting adult children, I realize that we are all always in transition and in need of Jesus to carry us through.
For years the holiday season would take me by surprise and throw me off my rhythms and routines. Specifically, my spiritual practices of reading God’s Word, prayer, journaling, sharing my faith, and engaging with Christian community. It seems like when my schedule gets thrown for a loop, so does my time with God. So, often I would get to January feeling spiritually dry and needing a refresh. But after a few years of seeing this issue surfacing, I reflected on what could change to thrive vs. survive during the holidays.
Keys to Thriving Spiritually During the Holidays
- The first key to keeping your walk with Jesus vibrant during seasons of change is to know thyself!! Just think about the effort we put in to research Black Friday deals, yet fail to be intentional about a game plan for our soul and how we will connect with God? A great way to keep things fresh is to take a Spiritual temperaments inventory. What is this you ask? Remember Teen Magazine and the quizzes you could take to “find your perfect hairstyle to suit your personality?” A spiritual temperaments inventory is a quiz to help us recognize how to best connect with God! After all, we are all wired differently … so naturally we won’t connect with Jesus in the same way. Take a quick second and just see what your natural spiritual temperament might be and then ask the Lord for creative ideas of new ways to spend time with Him. Learn and experiment with things like prayer walking, painting, and taking personal retreats to fend off any spiritual sluggishness you might experience during the holidays. Understanding my spiritual temperament has helped me implement steady rhythms and practices I can use to invest in my relationship with God and enliven my connection with Christ.
- The second things that I do to thrive in my relationship with God is to schedule a date with Jesus. Yep, you read that right. During the holidays, it is not always easy to find thirty minutes alone each morning for a daily devotional. Therefore, if I have an extended block of time set aside to tuck away with the Lord, I can more deeply connect with him compared to trying to snag mere minutes each day. There’s something beautiful about having unrushed time to process and defragment my soul in God’s Presence in the midst of the flurry of festivities that helps me connect with Jesus. Plus, it takes on this special anticipation where I start to crave my alone time with Him because it feels sacred. There is nothing dutiful or monotonous about going for a long walk to pray or sitting in a park with my Bible to hear Jesus speak to me from the Word. This time fills me and refuels me so I can better engage with friends and family. Sign me up!!
If you are anything like me and you are naturally a performer or achiever personality type, then you may feel shame and guilt if you can’t stick to your daily Bible reading routine or spend a certain amount of devotional time each day. I totally get it. That is why I struggle with the change that occurs during the holidays.
This is a great time for us to believe that Jesus truly is the “Author and Perfector of our faith.” Despite our busyness, His grace will carry us through every season and transition. All relationships have an element of change, the same proves true with God. Sometimes we are connected and can spend endless time reading the Bible while other times we feel distant and need to plan to engage with Him intentionally. The same way there are seasons in my friendships and marriage that feel very warm, fuzzy and connected, there are also seasons where things seem off or distant.
The good news is that we have a relational God who pursues us for intimacy with Him, which is what our hearts hunger for the most. He came from Heaven to Earth to rescue and redeem us, and our deepest of joy is found in drawing near to Him. That can be done in the thick of any life or seasonal transition, and I pray that we see Him as our greatest prize.
So, let’s take time to pray about the changes that are coming ahead and plan to thrive instead of just survive! Think through your holiday schedule and determine now how you will spend time in worship, Bible study, prayer and engaging with Christian community. God has so much for us if we seek Him first. I know if we do then we can experience fresh growth in the midst of what is typically a tough transition and chaotic season.