“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” Mark 1:1-3
Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
The holiday season can be the best of times or the worst of times.
Having experienced over six decades of Christmases, I certainly remember the best of times and worst of times!
When the Holidays Are Joyful and Not So Joyful
As a young child, I remember going downtown to see the magical department store windows decorated with holiday scenes. My mother baked elaborate cookies, and I remember the excitement of Christmas morning with all the presents under the tree.
But around the age of 10, that all changed. Thanksgiving started a season of rage with my father. I don’t know what set him off, but I would dread the holiday season.
There were also the lonely times in my early twenties. I still lived at home with my mother. The friends I had growing up had all moved on with their lives. I had no social network.
I couldn’t wait for the non-stop commercials and programs to be over. All the bombardment of images depicting lavish parties with friends and perfect families enjoying a feast. It all reinforced the loneliness I felt.
Then there were the best of times with making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, finding a loving church, gaining an instant, loving family through marriage, and having my son.
Isaiah 40:3 and Mark 1:3 both tell of a voice crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord.”
Advent – The Season of Joy
Advent represents the four Sundays leading up to Christmas day with the coming of Christ. There is a candle for each Sunday that represents hope, peace, love, and joy.
This is a reminder to listen to the voice that tells you to prepare your heart for the advent message. It can seem like a voice crying in the wilderness, drowned out by the voices of bargains and shopping and the holiday hustle and bustle. Or it can be a voice that is drowned out by an overwhelming sadness of loneliness or loss.
But this is the season of joy and I wanted to give you some tips to help you focus on joy.
7 Tips to Prepare the Way for Joy
- Be present. Give your full attention to what you are doing. Don’t think about the past or future. Focus on the moment.
- Think about what you want for the holiday and make a list. Are there activities, baking, decorating, sending cards? If there is no way to accomplish everything, what is most important that will bring you joy? Where can you get help?
- Block out time to get things done with no distractions. For example, designate a day to bake. Each year I bake with my niece. Plus, having the company makes it more fun. During the COVID lockdowns, it didn’t stop us. We baked over Zoom. : )
- Don’t set yourself up to be stressed like waiting until the last minute to get something done. Example, wrapping presents. In the past, I’d be wrapping presents 30 minutes before guests arrived! Talk about stress! If you have last minute gifts, get gift bags from the dollar store.
- If you are having a hard time with a loss or loneliness, reach out to someone for help. People want to help, but they can’t if you don’t tell someone.
- Find a sacred space to take a few moments for stillness. It could be a church, park, lighted display, or in the early morning or before bed at home. If you need help to destress, this short guided meditation, Be Still can help.
- Read the second Chapter of Luke throughout the month. I can’t help but think of Linus of Peanuts Cartoon fame, as he uses part of this chapter as his monologue in the Charlie Brown Christmas animated special.
Wishing you a month that is filled with joy.
If you like this post and want more tips and inspiration sent to you each Monday to start your week to live with what I call joy and flow (where I aspire to live), put in your first name and primary email below. I will also send you the short eBook – the Four Steps to Flow.