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It’s supposed to be the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year and yet all I am hearing is:
“I’m so stressed out.”
“I cannot wait until this season is over.”
“I don’t know how I’m going to afford Christmas this year.”
“I meant to only have a glass of wine, but then x, y & z happened, so I just drank the whole bottle.”
“I need a drink or a xanex or both.”
“I’m freaking out. I don’t have enough time to get everything done.”
Probably sounds familiar to you, right? You hear it at work, in the stores, and from family and friends.
I’ll be honest, hearing this breaks my heart and pisses me off. I’m angry because anxiety/stress is basically fear. And I loathe and detest fear!!! And it breaks my heart because this season should be about the joy of the greatest gift anyone has ever given, Jesus.
Jesus came to give us peace & rest. He came to set people free and heal their bodies and broken hearts. A celebration of His birth should not drive you to wino-hood or prescription meds!
Here’s what the Word says about anxiety:
1. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 NASB
Don’t let stress win! Change your perspective! Give God the things your stressing about & focus your energies on the things your thankful for!!
2. “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NLT
Give your anxious thoughts to God and THEN His peace comes & guards your heart & mind.
3. “And now, dear brothers & sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT
A mind fixed on lack of money or creating perfect holiday will find stress. And stress is fear! Fear is a bully! And bullying is unacceptable!
You do not HAVE to spend a fortune on presents and decor! You don’t HAVE to cook a 7 course meal! If that stuff is stressing you out, scale back! I don’t care if it’s been done that way since forever! It’s not worth it.
Jesus came to give life and life abundant! He came to free you. He came to heal you. He loves you! He doesn’t want you to be full of anxiety!
You have the right to say no. No day, meal or gift is worth the loss of your health or sanity!
Point to ponder while you wander… Ask yourself what is important to you. What do you enjoy about the holidays? Now focus on those lovely and excellent things.
Point #2…Fix your mind & focus your energy on loving your family and friends well this year instead of big expensive gifts and perfect dinners.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
About 30 years ago, on a blustery, snow-filled winter’s night, I crossed the Mighty Mac for the first time. Mom was driving; white-knuckling it actually because of the poor visibility and wind gusts.
My five year old inquisitor brother starts grilling with questions, “Whoa, Mom, how deep is that water down there? How far up are we? Is the water cold? Would we…”
My Mom never answered his questions or found the answers for him, as she usually did…due to her intense fear at that moment.
This past Labor Day, half of our family walked the Mighty Mac during the annual Labor Day bridge walk, including the now 35 year old inquisitor. While we were enjoying Mackinac City, Mom finds a paper with Mackinac Bridge fun facts. She smiled and said, “Jeff, I have the answers to your questions. The water under the bridge is 95 feet deep and the bridge is 199 feet above the water.”
We were all laughed, heartily!
But there’s a lesson here too. Sometimes people cannot answer your personal questions. Usually it’s because they don’t know or don’t want to appear foolish or that the truth might embarrass them.
But sometimes it’s because they are flat out terrified. Fear prevents people from being honest with themselves and with you. Fear is the enemy of intimacy and vulnerability. Fear corners people and causes them to behave oh so squirrelly…or mean…or rude.
My mom always tried to help us get answers to our questions, but her fear caused her to be short with my brother & tell him to just shut up.
I’m not sure what point I’m trying to make…other than I love my family and I loathe fear…but this has just been rolling around in my head and I needed to get it out.
PS Random funny..me, my mom and my niece all prefer walking the Mighty Mac to driving over it. We feel safer. Weird but true.
“So the wicked hate the Light and try to hide from it, for their lives are fully exposed in the light.” John 3:20 TPT
In my experience the most horrible humans I’ve encountered are filled to the brim with shame and fear. Fear, not hate, is the true opposite of love. (I John 4) Just because someone isn’t shaking with nervousness, wringing their hands, or anxiously pacing doesn’t mean they’re not afraid.
The violent ones, the cruel ones, the bitter ones, and even the selfish ones are all so full of fear that they do everything in their power to control and dominate. They fear the light of exposure of their shame and their broken places. They fear being hurt. They fear being found inadequate or are terrified of failure. The selfish ones often fear lack and poverty.
Many people think by controlling everything and everyone they are safe. But really they’re just spreading fear.
Trusting God and receiving His love is the only true way to conquer fear. And depending upon the amount of fear the process may be longer than you want it to be. It was for me!
And the first step in that process is allowing the Light to expose what’s really going on inside your hear and mind.
Something to ponder while you wander…Shame and fear bring out the absolute worst in people. Hurting people hurt people. So being a light will sometimes draw wrath from people, love them anyway. That’s what Jesus did.
PS Loving people doesn’t not mean that you need to endure abuse. No one has the right to verbally, physically, or emotionally beat you up! NO ONE! If a “friend,” boss, spouse, parent, sibling, child or anyone else is harming you please seek help immediately. No matter what you’ve said or done, no one deserves abuse! NO ONE!
My favorite scripture to read every January is Isaiah 43:1-19. It’s Yahweh reminding His people that He’s always been there. Reminding them He can be trusted and not to be afraid. Then in verse 18, He says, I’m doing something new now. It’s like the chapter to that point was to stomp the fear out of them so they would be brave enough to embrace the new thing He was doing.
This morning I read Psalm 63. When I read “Because You are my help, I will sing in the shadow of Your wings.” (verse 7 in the NIV) I saw this image of a dad running next to a kid who’s learning to ride a bike. And I heard the Lord say, “Don’t be afraid of the new thing. Rejoice in the new thing, because I’m in it with you.”
So be brave in whatever is before you, because He’s in it with you!!
Throughout the Bible God continually repeats, “Do not fear.” Why? Fear blocks believing & prevents receiving. It rejects hope & despises love. Fear inspires procrastination & nurtures doubt.
“There’s no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life–fear of death–fear of judgment–is one not fully formed in love.” I John 4:18 MSG
“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest. ” Psalm 126:5-6
Letting go of the comfortable old for the uncertain new can be daunting and emotional. Even if it hurts, choose to remain open. Don’t let fear steal your future harvest!
There may be tears of pain and grief or even tears of frustration and exhaustion. Think of those tears as fertilizer and don’t let fear stop you! Remain open! Those tears are only for a season.
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrew 11:1
Sometimes we stand in our own way. We are afraid to just believe that we will have what we hope for. Don’t allow fear to steal your hope. Instead allow yourself to be persuaded that God is good & He will do what He said He will do. He desires to give us His best for us even more than we want His best for us.
“I am leaving you with a gift, peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27
Don’t let fear lie to you! You have the same peace as Jesus. It is the same peace that allowed Jesus to sleep in the storm that panicked everyone else.
When fear rises,remind yourself that you have nothing to fear! Stand on God’s word. Just because you are feeling afraid doesn’t mean you have to stay that way!
“And Jesus arose & rebuked the sea, ‘Peace. Be still.’ And the wind ceased & there was great calm. And He said, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?'” Mark 4:39-40
Do you see that as soon as the disciples lost their peace fear replaced their faith?
It only took fear a few minutes to change everything. They no longer trusted the Word from Jesus, that he’d just spoken 4 verses before. Their sole focus became their anxiety, which caused panic, even though Jesus was asleep in the same boat!
Fear is a liar & a thief! It steals more dreams and destinies than anything else. Peace is your first line of defense, so maintain your peace!