The holidays are simultaneously a great opportunity for spiritual growth, and a time of potential discouragement. It can be the most wonderfully confusing time of the year.
Having time off to rest and spend with family can be a wonderful opportunity to deepen our relationships, reflect on the year and make spiritual goals for the next one. When the pace of life gets slower, it becomes easier to strike up conversations with people we may not have otherwise been able to.
On the other hand, the holidays are rife with situations that can be spiritually detrimental if we aren’t careful. As our schedules begin to wind down, the temptation to overindulge becomes stronger, as does the desire to compare our lives to the people around us.
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.Luke 21:34 NIV
It’s important during the holidays that we are being careful to avoid the temptations to escape our lives, or control them. The following are three traps we can easily fall into that will weigh our hearts down, followed by three conversations we can have that will help ensure that we come out of the holidays stronger than we were when we went in.
3 traps to avoid
1. The speed trap
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”Psalm 46:10 NIV
The speed trap refers to when we do the following to our holidays:
The holiday season is a great opportunity to be still and spend quality time with God, but it can just as easily become a frantic time that leaves us feeling tired and guilty (not to mention broke).
When planning your holiday schedule, be sure to plan in time with God, your spouse, and friends who help you stay focused on what’s important. Approach planning for these things just like you would planning for food, fun activities and visits.
2. The comparison trap
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.Philippians 4:11 NIV
This trap refers to when we spend the holiday comparing, competing, and feeling discontent. If you’ve ever experienced the following, then you know the dangers of the comparison trap:
- FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)
- Facebook envy
- Sibling or family comparison
- Unnecessary trips to the mall
This holiday season, take time to study the Scriptures to learn about how God teaches us to be content in any circumstance we’re in. Instead of envying your sibling’s Christmas photo, have great conversations with your family and spend time in prayer expressing gratitude for the ways you’ve seen God move in your life this year.
3. The loneliness trap
God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.Psalm 68:6 NIV
No one should be alone during the holidays. If you’re feeling lonely, don’t be afraid to invite yourself over to someone’s house.
If you do have plans to be with family or friends, make sure that you’re making the most of the opportunity to let down with people about how you’re feeling. It’s possible to be with people physically, but be absent emotionally. Take time to initiate conversations and talk about your year, and what you’re hoping for as the year draws to a close.
3 talks to have
1. The Grinch talk
The Grinch is a movie about second chances. When the Grinch took responsibility for the chaos he had caused and realized he had missed the purpose of Christmas, he was embraced by the villagers instead of being punished or ostracized.
For in the Son all our sins are canceled and we have the release of redemption through his very blood.Colossians 1:14 TPT
We all have a story of redemption, of being loved at our worse. This is a conversation we need to have with God, where we can honestly talk about all the guilt we’ve been carrying so we can let it go and begin anew.
Talk about these areas with God:
- Talk about having a new start
- Talk about forgiveness and redemption
- Let go of guilt, regret and pride
2. Snow Miser/Heat Miser talk
In 1974, Christmas TV special “The Year Without Santa Claus” brought back the stop motion animation aesthetic made popular by the Classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in 1964. Without getting too into the weeds on this (surprisingly) intricate story, just know that it’s a meaningful tale about two brothers who have to reconcile their troubled relationship in order to come together and save Christmas.
It’s a great holiday movie to watch to help us think about what relationships we have that are in need of repair.
Even though you were once distant from him, living in the shadows of your evil thoughts and actions, he reconnected you back to himself.Colossians 1:22 TPT
When we were at our worst, God did everything he could to reconnect us back to him. He made (and continues to make) efforts to help us deal with our sin so we can be in a loving relationship with him. In turn, 1 John 2 teaches us that the example of love he set should motivate us to do likewise with the people in our lives.
The following actions will help you have transformational conversations with your closest relationships:
- Decide to reconcile any strained relationships
- Be honest and transparent to close the distance gap
- Let go of any bitterness and resentment
3. The Rudolph talk
Speaking of Rudolph, what better example from the Christmas movie archive is there of someone trying to make sense of their shortcomings, and understand their purpose in life?
After spending most of the film in exile trying to find his place in the world, Rudolph eventually discovers that the characteristic he saw as a flaw (his bright red nose) was the unexpected solution to the problem Santa was facing (bad weather prevented him from flying). This movie has endured in part because of how relatable this story is to so many of us who have at some point or another identified with the inhabitants of the Island of Misfit Toys.
Christ is our message! We preach to awaken hearts and bring every person into the full understanding of truth.Colossians 1:28 TPT
This holiday season, use some of your down time to discover what direction God is trying to point you towards in your life.
Ask yourself the following questions, and talk over your answers with God and a spiritual friend:
- What are my perceived weaknesses and what purpose might they serve?
- What future do I believe God has ahead for me?