This season brings warm fuzzies with a swirl of nostalgia. The holidays entice us to hold tight to those we love in the midst of pumpkin scents and the future ambiance of Christmas lights. It's my favorite time of year: Time to count your blessings and bask in God’s goodness.
Everywhere we look, there are decorations, commercials, cards that remind us to “be thankful.” Okay, yep, thankful… got it! Thanksgiving and Christmas sort of force us to grasp the concept… Right?
But are we truly grateful for ALL things right now? I bet you every Mama has a slight hoarding of stress in the back of her mind. Let's be authentic. We are entering the season of chauffeuring our families to every holiday party, racking up credit card bills with Christmas presents, and stressing over cooking for umpteen people for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Let’s not forget that pesky elf on the shelf we obligate ourselves to partake in with creative, new adventures every night. I deem myself a “Holiday Queen,” but I'm just as guilty as the next person for having holiday meltdowns.
If we’re honest, there will be plenty of moments in the coming weeks for us to forget all about that “Be Thankful” message and explode in frustration with Christmas glitter flying and burnt turkeys shoved into the outside garbage can. We will inevitably refrain from praising God in the midst of Christmas budgets or frantic, angry shopping and travel on Black Friday.
But why? Why does this magical, amazing season sometimes leave us empty? Why do we lose sight of what’s most important: Having a grateful heart when we truly need it most?
Maybe we overwhelm ourselves with showing thankfulness and proving our holiday spirit instead of stopping to let God into our hearts and focusing our eyes on the Holy Spirit. Isn't He the core of why we should be thankful? Isn’t He the “reason for the season?”
This is the season of blessings. So instead of concentrating so much on decorations, food, and the perfect gift, perhaps we should focus on the process of having a grateful heart through any circumstance. Maybe we should stop “counting our blessings” and seek out those who haven't been as blessed. Having a grateful heart isn't just thanking God for our material wealth and for those around us but rather for using God’s gift of undeserved grace to fuel us into action for others.
Whether we have a little or a lot, my prayer is for us to be the hands and feet of Jesus this holiday season. After all, serving others sheds light on all we have to be thankful for. Yes, get in the holiday spirit. Yes, celebrate Jesus and all He’s done in our lives.
But stop to thank Him for the challenges as well. Pause and reflect on what a privilege it is to be stressed over the holiday season. When you are teetering with a holiday meltdown, ask God to make you truly grateful for the moments that can leave you empty. Pray for Him to use that emptiness to fill up another's cup. Let's decide what we are going to do to use this season’s blessings to simply bless someone else.
“Give thanks to God in all circumstances. For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Thank You. Thank You for all the holidays bring: cheer, adventure, decorations, time with family and friends. Help us to have grateful hearts and to acknowledge those blessings, but also to seek You in the moments we struggle to find joy. God, guide our thoughts and actions to help others this holiday as an exchange of gratitude for all You’ve done. Father, help us to stop when we find ourselves on the edge of complaint or feeling overwhelmed with all this season entails. May we use that pause to find friend or foe who could use a touch of the love and grace You've extended to us all year round.
May You be the reason for every season.
Author: Candace Koon