I have not been in the Christmas spirit.
I admitted it.
Christmas is usually my favorite time of year. But I don’t know. This year it feels different.
I turned on the Christmas music. I decorated. We set up the tree and put lights up outside.
But it felt like I was doing it all out of duty. Out of obligation. Just because this is what we do this time of year.
The joy was definitely lacking.
And I didn’t like feeling this way so I began to wonder:
How can I get in the Christmas spirit?
Because if we are honest, we know that being joyful and feeling festive don’t always come naturally during the Christmas season.
Sometimes it’s because we are facing hard things. Sometimes it’s due to circumstances out of our control. But sometimes it’s because we need a little bit of help.
In my own struggles, I have discovered 12 things that have helped me get into the Christmas mood. These things have helped me feel more peaceful and joyful during this time of year.
And it is my prayer that these things will help you, too!
- How can I get in the Christmas spirit?
- 1) Step away and pray.
- 2) Examine your heart and confess sin.
- 3) Ask God for help!
- 4) Write down all the things you are thankful for.
- 5) Pay attention to your thoughts.
- 6) Fixing your focus.
- 7) Get some rest.
- 8) Just say NO!
- 9) Have low expectations.
- 10) Find ways to serve others.
- 11) Reflect on God’s promises.
- 12) Remember the reason for the season.
1) Step away and pray.
If we look at the life of Jesus, we see that while He was very busy and had a lot of people demanding His time . . . He often purposefully stepped away to pray.
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”-Luke 5:16 NIV
If Jesus, the perfect and sinless God-man himself, needed to spend time in prayer . . . how much more do we as fallen human beings need to make this a top priority?
We must learn to step away and pray so we can stay connected to the One who can help us get through the day.
2) Examine your heart and confess sin.
Nothing can sap joy like an unrepentant heart. When we know we are living in a way that displeases God we will feel the weight of it all.
This is why David said in Psalm 32:
“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”-Psalm 32:3-4 NIV
Unconfessed sin is like carrying a heavy weight around. But we can lay that burden down right now. We can ask God to examine our hearts and show us any sins we need to confess.
Then we can repent.
And bask in the joy of His amazing grace and forgiveness.
3) Ask God for help!
It seems obvious that we should ask God to help us find joy and get into the Christmas spirit. But if you are anything like me . . . well, I tend to try and fix things on my own first.
I read all the books. Talk to friends. Google all the DIY options. And then I finally realize, maybe I should just pray about it?
Too often I try to live in my own strength. Instead of leaning on God.
So, if you’re like me, and have been wondering, “How can I be joyful at Christmas?”
Maybe the answer is quite simple:
Just pray and ask God to help you.
4) Write down all the things you are thankful for.
There is a reason Thanksgiving comes before Christmas.
When we spend time thinking about what we are grateful for it naturally causes us to feel more joy.
Not only that but people who give thanks tend to be more confident, resilient, and filled with peace. They also tend to have more energy and even heal more quickly from disease!
If we focus on the negative, we will feel depressed and discouraged. But if we focus on the positive, we will feel more peaceful and hopeful.
What we pay attention to. . . affects our mood.
This is why it is important to:
5) Pay attention to your thoughts.
Did you know that according to research 80% of our thoughts are negative and 95% of them are repetitive?
No wonder we find it hard to find joy sometimes!
The Bible has a lot to say about our thoughts. And for good reason. Everything begins with a thought. Which then leads to a feeling. Which leads to action. Which leads to a habit. And so on.
If we want to feel more joy, we need to pay attention to what we are thinking about.
And work to think more positively by:
6) Fixing your focus.
Often when we are thinking negatively, it is because we are focused on the wrong things. Such as our circumstances. Our poor health. The pile of bills. Or our strained relationships.
Instead of staying focused on the One who is greater than our circumstances.
In Matthew 14, Peter showed us how important our focus is. When he kept his eyes on Jesus, he was able to walk on water. He was the only other human being other than Jesus to do so. And yet, when he chose to focus on his circumstances, the wind and the waves roaring around him, that is when he sank.
When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we are reminded that:
- He loves us.
- He is in control.
- And He has a plan to work everything out for our good.
And that can bring us joy.
Even during the storms of life.
7) Get some rest.
In Mark 6:31 we see this verse:
“Then because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’”-Mark 6:31 NIV
Jesus knew that the disciples couldn’t just keep going and going. He knew that even though the work they were doing was important, what was most important was finding time to rest.
Because you can’t pour from an empty cup!
Lysa Terkeurest once said,
“A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”-Lysa Terkeurest
We all tend to be busier during Christmas time, so we must keep this in mind:
We don’t have to do it all.
And we shouldn’t.
Yes, it all seems important. Yes, we want our families to enjoy the holiday. BUT we cannot be at our best if we don’t take time to rest.
It is important to make time for self-care at Christmas time so our families get the best versions of us. So, as we are scheduling things in our calendar, we should also schedule in time to rest.
Which may require us to:
8) Just say NO!
A great way to maintain balance in our schedule is to change our thinking. Because often, we end up saying “yes” to something because we don’t want to disappoint someone.
At least, I know that’s what I do!
But the reality is, anything we say “yes” to . . . is saying “no” to something else.
When we think of how saying “yes” to this person is looking at our family and saying “no” to them . . . well, it becomes a heck of a lot easier to say “no” to the other person!
9) Have low expectations.
It is easy to have this picture-perfect idea in our head of the way the holidays SHOULD look. But at the same time, we all know how life goes.
And it is far from perfect!
(The truth is the only picture-perfect holidays are on Instagram or the Hallmark channel!)
We can save a lot of stress if we choose right away to expect things not to go as planned.
When we lower our expectations of both ourselves and others, we are free to enjoy the moment without the burden of trying to make it all perfect.
And we may even find that the messy moments make the best memories.
10) Find ways to serve others.
When we take the time to give to others it takes our focus off ourselves. We begin to focus on how we can help others with their problems and end up forgetting about our own for a while.
If we find ourselves feeling less than joyful this season, maybe the best thing we can do is give some of our time, money, or energy away.
When we give a blessing to others, we end up receiving a blessing in return.
Because doing good makes us feel good.
11) Reflect on God’s promises.
Sometimes when life is hard, we need to cling to His promises. And the Bible is FULL of promises that God has made to us. The three I love to cling to are:
- Nothing can separate me from God’s love. (Romans 8:35-39)
- God is always with me. (Deut. 31:8)
- And God can work it ALL out for my good. (Romans 8:28)
Remembering the promises God has made to us can help us feel more joy. They also remind us that because of that first Christmas so long ago, no matter what we face in this world we can have HOPE.
This brings me to the last way we can find joy this Christmas:
12) Remember the reason for the season.
Why is it important to have joy throughout the Christmas season? Because Christmas was the greatest gift God could give to us.
One of God’s names is Jehovah Jireh, which means “The LORD will provide.”
In Genesis 22, the Lord calls Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. But when Abraham is about to do what God asked him to do, the angel of the Lord (the pre-incarnate Jesus) stops him.
At that moment, Abraham looks up and sees a ram caught in the thicket. So, he sacrifices the ram instead. Then Abraham calls the Lord, Jehovah Jireh.
Because the Lord had provided.
In this context, God was not providing for needs like shelter, food, or clothing, but for the greatest need a person could ever have . . . the need for LIFE.
In the same way, Jesus came into this world as our Jehovah Jireh. Because sin always leads to death. And we have all sinned. (Rom. 3:23)
That first Christmas was the start of Jesus’s journey to the cross. He lived the perfect life we could never live. And died the death we would never want to die. The death we deserved.
All so that He could provide for our greatest need: our need for LIFE. Eternal life.
Jesus is the reason for the season. But WE were HIS reason.
And remembering this, my friends, is one of the best ways to find joy in the Christmas season.
Because . . .
The greatest gift we could ever be given . . . is to be forgiven.
If you found this encouraging, then please share!
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