Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Holiday blessings
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
Are you ready? Christmas is, after all, just one week away. No doubt all believers ascribe to the notion that we should be focused on “the reason for the season,” yet we can all too often find ourselves stressed out, frustrated, frazzled and frenzied because we have so much to do and too little time to do it. Yet, each year, we somehow get everything done in the nick of time but with the promise to ourselves that next year things will be different.
I bet I’m not alone in this thinking, right?
So, in honor of the real reason for the season, let’s take off the top layer of the stress we may be carrying so we can see what is beneath – which is where the true blessings are.
- “I have so many gifts left to purchase, when will I find the time?” The blessing? If we have gifts to purchase, then we must have loved ones we are trying to buy that special something for, and we have the monetary means to do it.
- “Why am I always the one responsible for hosting the Christmas dinner?” The blessing? We have loved ones eager to come to our homes, and we have the homes ready to welcome them.
- “I don’t feel like celebrating because this year has been so hard.” The blessing? We survived the year and arrived at the open door of another year and a clean slate, even though there may be some emotional bruises.
- “The idyllic Christmas with smiling faces and happy families is foreign to me.” The blessing? If your family of origin resulted in psychological trauma and emptiness and pain, one day you will start your own family and can fill the rooms with love and laughter and open affection.
- “There has been so much loss this year, how can I even think of celebrating?” The blessing? The Heavenly Father is waiting to take you in His arms, dry your tears and show you the hope of tomorrow!
We can get so focused on making the perfect meal, the most beautiful packages, the best decorations and the ideal fire burning in the perfect fireplace that the “real reason for the season” can take a back seat. The picture-perfect scene captured in a greeting card or presented in a sappy Hallmark Christmas movie feels out of reach even though we have tried our darnedest to have it.
But let’s be real for a moment.
The best Christmas is one where every hug, every smile, every laugh, every giggle, every silly dance, every grumpy outburst, every living, breathing moment are present. These are the real gifts we get to unwrap, not just on Christmas but every day we are blessed to be alive. Even the hard stuff – the setbacks, troubles, challenges and just plain awful days – are precious gifts because they are all part of God’s plan for us. Remember, He did send a rainbow!
As you open your presents this Christmas and reflect on the previous year, be thankful not just for the material gifts but for the heavenly gift God gives us. To celebrate God’s gift each day is the true meaning of Christmas. It’s a chance to reflect on all the wondrous gifts God puts under your tree so you can rip them open and enjoy them each and every day. It’s a reminder to feel happy and joyful for being so very blessed.
Yes, even the stresses we experience have, as their underbellies, a rich and warm blessing. We might have to search to find them, but we can rest in the fact that God has provided them, and they are more than we could ever hope for.
Merry Christmas and may you feel the peace and comfort of God as He soothes your hurts and sorrows and provides in rich abundance the REAL treasures of Christmas. Whether you are facing the Christmas season with high expectations of joy and family togetherness, or if your expectations are stained with the bruising of past hurts and disappointments, we can know this — God is with us. He loves us and will never leave us, not because we’re so awesome, but because HE is!
Merry Christmas and happy New Year! Emmanuel!