Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Dealing With Holiday Stress

Luke 10:38-42 38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

On the Sunday before Christmas, a little boy and girl were singing their favorite carol, Silent Night.  The boy concluded the song with the words, “sleep in Heavenly beans.”  The girl elbowed him and said, “Not beans, peas.”  For many, the song may as well end with beans or peas because, for them, the Christmas season doesn’t end with peace.  In the passage above, we learn that Martha was experiencing stress.  She was distracted, anxious, and troubled. 

Some holiday stress creators include shopping for gifts, attending holiday parties, putting up decorations, cooking, wrapping gifts, fighting traffic, funding the holiday budget, gathering with family members without offending other family members, gaining weight, sending Christmas cards, hearing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”, and so many more. 

Everyone experiences some degree of stress.  Stress can result from feeling annoyed, threatened, pressured, excited, scared, worried, hurried, angered, frustrated, or criticized, etc.  Think about a rubber band for a moment.  It can be stretched and then it returns to normal when the external force is removed.  If stretched for a long time, it can lose its elasticity and will eventually snap. 

Stress can cause headaches, stiffness in the neck, shoulders, jaws, arms, legs, hands, irregular heartbeats, dizziness, indigestion, nausea, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, waking up tired, anger, irritability, and a myriad of other negative issues. 

Martha became distracted with much serving.  We, too, can get distracted by the things we feel are seemingly necessary.  It is easy to miss out on the “one thing” that “is necessary” by making priorities of some things that don’t deserve priority.  Martha was serving.  Mary was worshiping.  Martha was distracted.  Mary was focused.  Martha was worried.  Mary was contented.

Mary realized the most important thing was to spend time with Jesus.  Preparation for an event is not to be compared with spending time in the presence of Him Who is the central figure of the event.  She chose the “one thing” that was most important and it could not be taken away from her.  Parties come and go but spending time with Jesus is life-changing.  We must never get so busy during the holidays that we neglect the quiet and peaceful worship of, and fellowship with, our Lord Jesus.

To deal with holiday stress, consider this:
1) Understand what Christmas is really all about. 
 2) Plan ahead. 
 3) Let others help. 
 4) Lighten your calendar.  Remember, some things and events are optional. 
 5) Stick with your budget. 
 6) Put priority on your most significant relationships:  Christ, spouse, family, closest friends.

On the night Jesus was born, Angels sang “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  During this Christmas season, may each of us choose to spend time with Jesus, the Son of God, Who came to save us from our sin.  Don’t allow the celebration of the most peace-filled night in history to become the most stress-filled time of the year.

Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace;
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar;
Heav'nly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Savior, is born!
Christ, the Savior, is born!

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth;
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.