Getting Through the Holidays

As I type this on a gray, gloomy Monday morning, I feel the need to share a word of encouragement with you.

I’m not sure how you’re handling life this morning. I’m not sure how you’re planning to address the Thanksgiving week ahead of us–whether you plan to embrace it with enthusiasm and gratitude or endure it with clenched teeth and an exhausted determination to survive the hectic schedule. I’m not sure how you’re feeling right now, if you’re happy, worried, thankful, stressed, joyous, exhausted, content, anxious.

I have no idea where your headspace is right now.

But, since I do know where mine is at, I hope that God will allow my words here to inspire gratitude, joy, and contentment in your life, no matter where you are at right now.

So, let me just give the general picture:

I am exhausted. Weary. Bleak. Running on empty. Stressed. Anxious. Uncertain. Scared. Fearful. Worried. Losing control. Wanting to sit down and get my life in order again. Lacking time. Lacking energy. Lacking cares for anything except to get through the day.

If anything, if you could see me on the other side of this screen right now, I’d probably look a lot like this:

It’s been getting harder and harder to find balance and vibrancy in my life. What was once a long stretch of golden days where the sun’s rays beautifully filtered into my room and mind has now turned into a long stretch of cloudy days where storms threaten with rumbles and flashes before crying on my bedroom window and calling out its lament to me.

And all I have to say to the rain is, “I feel you.”

Honestly, this whole month of November hasn’t even felt like the weeks approaching Thanksgiving. Usually, my holidays spirits are fired up as the leaves start to yellow than brown before gliding from the tree to the ground. Usually I’m having to seriously hold myself back from listening to Frank Sinatra Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. But this year, I just can’t seem to even enjoy the leaves on the ground. And that scares me.

I guess many factors come into play. Graduation and the uncertainty beyond it looms around the corner. The final checklist of things to do before graduation fights with regular homework and household chores. And of course, how can we forget about COVID?

I think a lot of us are just not feeling the holidays this year.

And you know what? That’s okay.

Acknowledge your feelings. Tune into them, state them as they are, then dig deep to find out why you are feeling that way.

It’s okay to not be okay.

It’s okay to feel the stresses of the final season of this year that horridly mesh with the stresses of a time of uncertainty and a global pandemic and family dinners and conflicting schedules and whatever else you have on your plate.

But allow me to share a passage of Scripture that, hopefully, will lift your spirits up as much as it did mine:

“Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 thessalonians 5:16-18

Three simple things, right? Rejoice always. Pray constantly. Give thanks.

But why are these things so hard to do when you’re in a season of “gotta do this” and “gotta do that” and “don’t have enough time” and “I just want to be done and sleep for a whole day”?

And I know that looking at these three things is daunting. You’re probably asking, “Kaylee, how am I even supposed to do these things right now when I literally do not have the energy?”

Great question!

You do them because you don’t have energy and despite the fact you don’t have energy.

Rejoicing doesn’t mean you have to be happy 24/7 in this period of holiday stress. Rejoicing can be as simple and as little as cooking yourself a microwave dinner and plopping down in front of the TV to watch Netflix as you eat. You can work to always rejoice when you continue to seek out little things like this throughout the day.

Praying constantly doesn’t mean you have to say these lengthy, elegant prayers with your eyes closed all the time. Praying constantly can look like saying little prayers while getting ready in the mornings, driving to work or school, or even sitting at your desk. It can be as simple as the plea, “God, I need You right now.”

Giving thanks in all circumstances means being grateful for the little things you rejoice in throughout the day and being grateful for the little prayers you say to God, knowing that He hears each one and is constantly by your side. It’s choosing to say “thank you” in a time when the natural response is to complain.

What these three things offer is a headspace reset. It shifts your attitude. And once your attitude is shifted, you’d be amazed at how much life brightens up. Suddenly those stormy clouds break apart to reveal the joyous sun–the sun that never stopped shining down upon you even though the clouds covered it.

I know this season is difficult for some of you. But keep rejoicing. Keep praying. Keep giving thanks. These things will help you endure, as James says:

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

James 1:2-4

I know it’s hard right now. But joy will come in the morning, and when it does, you’ll be stronger. You’ll have more endurance. You’ll have a mindset change.

This season won’t last forever. And when it ends, keep rejoicing. Keep praying. Keep giving thanks.

As you’re doing this, if there is anything specific you would like me to pray for you, you can always submit a prayer request here on Contently Planted. We’re in this together!

Rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks,

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