“Joy to the world.”
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
“Have yourself a Merry little Christmas, and let your heart be light!”
Most of us are familiar with, and even appreciate the Christmas sentiment. If you're honest thought, do you find it difficult to keep in consistent good cheer and peace during the holiday season? Despite your best intentions and aspirations, do "joyful" and "jolly" feel a bit out of reach? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, I’ve really been spending time with the Lord about this lately myself.
As always, when seeking Him on matters of the heart, the Lord faithfully spoke to mine. He gave me such a powerful realization, and, a practical tool to help combat discouragement, disappointment and an overall dampened attitude this holiday season. I’m going to share with you the message the Lord shared with me. My prayer is that He will use it to help you enjoy a more steady, consistent sense of joy and peace this busy holiday season.
My conversation with the Lord on this topic started after I recognized that a previously foreign element of speech had snuck its way into my native language. Maybe you’ll recognize it? It went a little something like this;
“I have to get to the grocery store today. I have to make dinner for a house full of people!”
“I have to come up with things for the family to do over Christmas break.”
“I have to get my gift shopping completed.”
“I have to go to [insert event, obligation, and social setting].”
“There are so many things I have to do. Busyness is simply getting the best of me.”
That tone of language had become so at home in my way of thinking, that it caused me to overlook the glaring obstacle starring me straight in the face and deceiving my heart. The Lord showed me in a humbling moment that my thoughts could not have been more wrong. I didn’t HAVE to do any of that, I GOT to.
Unexpectedly, Romans 12:2 has become my new favorite Christmas passage. Christmas passage? Absolutely. I’ll explain. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].”
When God spoke to my heart that I didn't have to view my life as a to-do list, I started getting more intentional about setting my thoughts straight. God has been teaching me how to live a “get-to” life. I’m finding that this verse from Romans is the key to living a “get-to” life. Not just for the Christmas season, but all year long.
What does it look like to live a “get to” life? Well, like all transformation, it begins in the mind. Friends, our thoughts direct our lives and alter our attitudes. Our thoughts manifest and mold us into who we are (Proverbs 23:7). If I’m feeling unappreciated, over-stressed, depressed, over indulgent, or burdened, it’s because that’s how I’m thinking. If we view our privileges as problems and our blessings as burdens, we will shortchange ourselves a heaping helping of the peace and joy God intends and desires for us. Living a “get to” life this season takes a little practice, and a lot of mindfulness, but let me tell you, it’s worth it. This kind of investment pays huge dividends!
When you purpose in your heart to live a “get-to” life, the secret is to decide not to conform to the patterns of this world. The world will tell you:
- You must eat all the junk now before the New Year hits and it’s time to diet – again.
- You should overspend, overcommit, and overindulge - 'tis the season after all.
- Run yourself ragged, there’s no time to slow down to fill up your soul. That Christmas list won’t shop for itself you know. Now, up, up, run, run!
- You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. They’ll never change and all this holiday "getting-togethering" will always be trying to your patience and taxing to your long-held tongue.
That’s not the pattern for you though. You're a get-to thinker! You flip that way of thinking of its head. A “get-to” life is transformed by renewing your mind. It's achieved by bucking the ways and messages of the world. A get-to thinker re-writes the pattern of thought we can get stuck in so easily. A “get-to” way of life says:
- I get to take good care of this body of mine - consistently. I have the freedom to enjoy the treats that are important to me, in moderation, but I don’t operate out of a diet mentality. I get to choose from an abundance of foods that not only taste good but leave me feeling great. I get to enjoy feeling good!
- I get to make the people I love feel special not only with what I purchase, but with my time, my words of love and encouragement, and my special gifts. I get to make margin for rest in my schedule because I recognize the need for downtime. I get to enjoy, really enjoy, some of the wonderful treats this season but don’t need to go crazy. I get to make choices that are important to me!
- I get to spend time freely with the Savior of the world. I don’t need a reservation. I can come anytime I like and stay as long as I choose. I get to fill myself with the Bread of Life, so I enjoy true fullness. I get to enjoy the all-consuming peace and presence of Immanuel.
- I may not have a choice in who I call family, but I get to choose how I respond, react and relate to the people has God has put in my life. I get to enjoy the blessings of being a peacemaker. I get to view my family through the eyes of Jesus. And, I get to be His representative to them! I get to shine the light of God because He sees me a fit spokesperson and agent of change. What an honor!
This Christmas, I pray that the Lord will minister steadfast peace and joy to your heart with a renewed way of thinking. As you focus on all the ways you get to enjoy life, bless others, and bask in the love of God the season, you’ll recognize blessings more and more. The more we look for God, the more we begin to see Him. May you see Him everywhere this Christmas season, and may your renewed thoughts pave the way for peace all year long.