Many of us are impacted by extra demands on time, energy and finances. The stress of a busy holiday schedule from shopping to seasonal festivities – can wear off the joy of the season even for a usually well-balanced person. At times it may not feel like ‘Christmas’, so much as ‘Stressmas’!
Many contend that the season has become a commercial enterprise. It makes the rush of Black Friday followed by Cyber Monday a disconnect from “peace on earth, good will to all.”
A public movement to balance the buying frenzy is “Giving Tuesday” (December 1st), a day designated to give to charity or volunteer in the community. In his hugely successful TED talk, philosopher Peter Singer emphasizes the immense satisfaction and happiness in giving to help others.
So, how can we maintain – or recapture the joy of this special season? After all, the idea was originally to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the view of our origin as God’s children that his life represented. It wasn’t about checking things off the ‘to do’ list or finding the perfect gift.
I learned one year to find the true reason for joy; to find that heartfelt love which genuinely underlies the season’s activities.
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;” states the prophet Isaiah (55:12 NIV). This promise came to me that year when Christmas preparations and present buying had me anxious and stressed. I wanted to be joyful and peaceful as this was a special time with family and friends. How could I experience this Biblical promise?
During one busy Christmas shopping trip, I was struck by the incongruity of the season’s joy with the battleground the shopping experience presented. I began to have a severe headache. Finding a quiet space, I humbly turned to God, wanting to let in His joy and peace.
The Bible gives wise counsel on changing how we think about a problem. Another proven source of inspiration for me is Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. One of her statements came to me as I was praying that day: “Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul [God].” (pg 269:14) I understand metaphysics to be the principal laws of God, His all-power and goodness operating in our lives.
Certainly, there were lots of “objects” on my gift list that I had not even really stopped to think about deeply.
The idea came to see each gift as an expression of the recipient’s spiritual quality, which they expressed, and I was fulfilling. The gift of a special book for a beloved husband became the expression of infinite Mind [God], which he certainly expressed in the attentive way he ran his business. The music gift card for a stepdaughter was an expression of Soul – a quality she expressed in much creativity as an outcome of our Creator.
I continued my shopping and other preparations, connecting each activity to a spiritual quality.
Over the course of the morning, the headache disappeared and the joy of the season reappeared. Nothing of the hustle and bustle around me had changed a bit. But, my thinking had.
The Christmas spirit is here to inspire. Our varied expressions of caring for others are a natural outcome of love that has its origins in our Creator. We can cherish a Christ-moment a recognition of our heritage as God’s children when we look more earnestly for the spiritual qualities expressed by each of us. Little wonder that leads to peace and joy.
As a community blogger on Metroland Media across Ontario, you can read this in various editions such a WindsorON here.