As the year 2020 comes to a close, we can recognize that this year has been different. Whether you had hoped to live in the dorms, off-campus with friends, or commute to campus from home, many of us have spent more time with our families. Although we are all rather isolated, we are also in these uncertain times together. In this season, we have navigated the pandemic, a divisive election, racial unrest and economic hardship. Our personal relationships in this season may have looked and felt different than before. I am in unbelief of the magnitude of trials we have had to confront this year, so if you are reading this: Good job, you’ve made it this far! All glory be to God!
Whatever your circumstance may be, many of us can look forward to the holidays. I am feeling all the more joyful for this Christmas season because of the losses of this year, but find myself also struggling with feelings of grief and despair brought by those same losses and uncertainties. In any year, the holiday season can be full of joy, laughter and gratitude, but it can also bring a lot of stress. I encourage us all to take the next few weeks to focus on rejoicing in the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the World and allow this to be our focus.
How can we fully embrace the goodness of Christ this holiday season amidst the uncertainty of our world? Here are some things I’m working on this holiday season:
Make God’s voice louder than the noise of this world
With all we hear from social media, the news, friends or family, it can be hard to know who to listen to. Decide who has authority in your life: Is it God or the world? When we decide or even remind ourselves of who should have authority in our lives, we begin to see how God is the only one worthy and capable of holding that role. In order to do this, we do not have to block out everything from the world. Instead, we do not allow it to have a stronghold over us. We practice this by letting God’s voice cut through the world’s noise.
Our God and savior is the Prince of Peace, and he invites us into his peace. In this holiday season, when you are faced with family members who have different opinions, instead of acting out of anger (as I have done many times), realize that only you can sacrifice your peace to whatever is happening. Remind yourself that while engaging in these conversations can be beneficial and sometimes necessary, you don’t have to let it take away from your peace in Christ.
Find something new
Without the discipline of schoolwork and classes, you may find yourself wandering aimlessly through the day during the holiday break. While this may be much-needed respite, it’s also an opportunity to immerse yourself in something fun. Maybe you pick up that book you’ve been saying you’ll read but haven’t yet, find a new route around your neighborhood to walk or try a new board game (or Jackbox.tv) to play with family or friends. Whatever it is, allow yourself to enjoy the rest away from schoolwork while pursuing something new or put-off that brings you joy!
This Christmas season will probably look very different than previous years. You may not see as many family members due to travel restrictions because of the pandemic, but I pray that you find joy in being still. No matter what we face, we have the gift of knowing Jesus and rejoicing in that relationship. We have the opportunity to choose gratitude in these last months of the year. We get to choose to be thankful. We get to take time to appreciate the little things and savor the blessings we receive each and every day. Let these good words from God wash over you and be your prayer:
- Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)
- His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
- For behold, I bring good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. (Luke 2:10)
May we seek peace amidst uncertainty, hope in the midst of sorrow and Christ himself with open hands and open hearts as he is the reason for the season.
Written by Kate Faulkner, Student Wellness Ambassador in the Office of Student Wellness.