Prepare Your Heart for the Holidays

The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are, of course, right around the corner and with their approach, I know some people are already feeling anxious…stressed about what to wear, what to make, what to buy, what to bring…and some just want them to be over.
I would like to encourage you (and remind myself) that instead of taking the normal tack of worrying about the impending holidays and getting swept up in the commercialism and frenzy of it all, to immerse yourself in love, gratitude, peace and joy. But how, you ask, when we have so much to do, so much to plan for and think about? Just the thought of being in crowds, around family, being more busy than ever having to shop and mingle and more, is enough to make many anxious, which doesn’t leave room for anything good.
I’m trying to look to the Bible more and more for answers. We know God (through His Word) encourages us not to worry, to try to remain loving, grateful, peaceful and joyful. I believe He meant every day, all the time, and especially through the holidays. I think St. Paul gives us a few clues if we read and re-read this passage: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)
I am going to try to put this simple advice into practice during this upcoming season. In every situation in which I find myself anxious (which is sometimes just waking up.) I am going to try to take a few minutes to pray and petition God (saying please and thank you!) and trust that He will grant me His peace. Wise counselors and spiritual leaders say that if we set our minds to anything for long enough (usually 21 days or more) those thoughts become actions, those actions become habits and those habits become our new “norm” or reality. Saint Paul also tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what the will of God is.” (Rom. 12:2)
Thankfully we have plenty of time to prepare our hearts and minds and change our ways this holiday season and in the year to come.
I pray that God remove the anxieties we face, especially as we prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays,
so we can keep it simple, change our ways and go forth in love, gratitude, peace and joy.

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Michele Chynoweth

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