by Jamie Bonnema
It always feels like time is speeding up, especially this time of year. I admit, the early winter-like temperatures had me anticipating the holidays a bit sooner than I normally do. What I consider the busiest time of year is already upon us. We have solidified our Thanksgiving plans, starting our gift-giving lists (and shopping already!), and have debated with our friends and family when is too early to decorate for Christmas. We join in on all the festivities we can, wanting to fully take in the magical feeling of the season. We anticipate the celebration of the birth of our Savior and don’t want a second to go by where we miss a chance to enhance this experience. And, in the process of doing, we can still end up missing living out this amazing gift.
While we tend to focus on what we are doing this time of year, something else also is taking place in the background. We are feeling. One day we are riding high, enjoying the moment with family over a great meal. The next day we may be at the other extreme, thinking about someone we love who is no longer with us. We can quickly swing from feeling thankful to being swallowed up in grief. We go from being anxious and overwhelmed in preparation back to feeling content and happy at an event for which we so meticulously planned. And throughout the season, a roller coaster of emotions threatens to control our behavior. One thing leads to another, and we can easily miss out on the renewing of our spirit during these times—when we desperately need a renewed spirit even more!
It is true; this time of year gets tricky, despite all the goodness that is packed into it. So how do we navigate all the factors—the family events, school programs, expectations, feelings, special activities, time constraints, and changed circumstances—and embrace the true meaning of the season? How do we keep our spirit in an attitude of praise for a Savior sent to us in our brokenness? How do we maintain a joyful heart during the holiday shuffle? How do we avoid becoming consumed with doing and feeling?
This is not one of those times where I have bullet points to highlight the changes we can make for a quick fix. I wish I had such a list! What I would like to offer, though, is this thought, which I hope you find more powerful: By grabbing onto Truth we can allow the proper foundation for all that we experience, so that we set up an environment in our hearts where joy can flourish—even in the midst of chaos or grief interrupting our plans. Truth can renew and refresh our spirit by releasing the burdens that tend to stack up.
I find it amazing how God’s Truth can change perspective, feelings, and even how the minutes go by in the day. With this in mind, I dare you to do something for the next 30 days: Declare God’s Truth in scripture, and see how it renews your spirit. The things we are daily doing can then lead to living out all that God has blessed us with when we ALSO surrender the wide range of feelings God has given us. Our spirit is renewed in the process. A renewed spirit is able to bless others. When others are blessed, joy multiplies. This is a beautiful chain reaction.
With this one small change, I cannot even come close to promising a stress-free holiday season. But, I do look forward to hearing how speaking God’s Word in the moment renews your spirit. I look forward to how it renews mine.
Here are some verses to get you started:
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16
“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34
“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:15
“And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:17b-20
Jamie Bonnema is a former youth treatment counselor for residential care, education, and wilderness programs. She is a married mother of four children, works from home with a biotech company, and loves spending time outdoors.