The holiday season seems to bring out the blue in all of us. I see it every year – shortly after Thanksgiving, and through the celebrations of the New Year, people struggle with a heaviness of heart. It’s virtually impossible to determine why. Yet, we try. Is it the solar index? Is it the bad news we’ve heard from doctors, family members, or employers? Or is it a failing relationship or unmet expectations for life? It’s hard to sort out sometimes. Whatever makes you blue, here are a few ideas to try this holiday season:
– Tell Him: Be honest with God about your discontent. The Scriptures model authentic, honest dialog between people and God. Job, for example, prayed: “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. (Job 7:11)” David asked God in Psalm 22:1, “Why have you forsaken me?” The Apostle Peter tells us (1 Peter 5:7) to cast all our “anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
The Bible doesn’t encourage us to resent God; that’s not what I’m suggesting. In fact, entering into our sad, discouraged feelings, talking about them with God, and allowing Him to respond is the way we deal with these feelings so that we don’t resent God. Take a walk, even in cold, brisk weather, and talk to God about your anger, frustration, or sadness. He can take it.
– Choose A Book: Check out a thick, thought-consuming book from the library. Part of what makes us feel the humdrums, is that we ruminate on unhealthy thoughts. Too much mental space invites too many unwanted mental guests. Whatever genre most captures you, hit the bookstore and dive into a good novel. (I’m looking to Jayber Crow for a little help this month.)
– Escape Your Self: Serving other people has a way of taking our minds of our selves. A little bit of Zeke goes a long way – to remedy this, I get involved in Operation Christmas Child, and a couple other projects. In the incarnation God humbled Himself by becoming a human in order that He might meet our deepest need for salvation. A great way to remember the birth of Christ is by loving others and actively meeting needs. Here are two organizations that you might enjoy working with this holiday season: Operation Christmas Child & Prison Fellowship/Angel Tree Ministries.
– Make Home Homey: Learn how to make mulled apple cider. (Here’s a great recipe!) Our environments affect us deeply, so make yours full of warm, familiar things. Fill your kitchen with the smell of spicy apple cider. Light candles in the dining room. Keep wood on the fire in the living room. If you have pets, bring them inside. Put on your favorite Christmas music and that old pair of sweatpants, and give yourself permission to settle into your favorite chair with your favorite hot drink. Repeat every day if necessary.
– Enjoy Traditions: Be intentional about forming and carrying out traditions. It doesn’t take a PhD in anthropology to see that people thrive with rituals. Perhaps it watching White Christmas, or looking at Christmas lights, or staying in pajamas all day over Christmas break. Our family plays Bing Crosby’s holiday station on Pandora most nights. We trounce around in the snow, get really cold, and then drink hot drinks. We decorate the tree with dried oranges and strings of popcorn. We read from an Advent calendar with the kids each night. And we go for frequent drives in the snow, throwing the pickup in 4-wheel drive to test its limits. (That last one is more “dad’s tradition,” but the entire family often goes along for the ride.)
– Stay in Community: It amazes me how many people are blue this time of year because they feel isolated. Let your local church help address those feelings. All people, you and me included, are hard to live with. But, there is little happiness or warmth that comes from living an isolated life. We are not ourselves apart from Christian community. We can dislike this idea, debate it, or even refuse to live it out – but it is simply how God made us. Attend church. Greet others warmly. Let their warm greetings sink into your heart and remind you that you do matter to others, and you are a part of an imperfect, but extraordinary community.
Q4U: Does this time of year hit you hard? What are some of the ways you deal with the blues?
Christmas Present Idea: To purchase Zeke’s book, “Man on the Run,” for the out-of-balance man in your life, click here!