8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11
With a week to go until Christmas, how’s your Great Joy meter? This is where the stress level explodes. It’s when we realize that we forgot several someones who bought us something and now we need to go back to the Mall. It’s when we begin to think that we should add another dessert or vegetable to the Christmas day menu or that our choice for the main dish now sounds weird instead of exotic. It’s when Christmas cards start coming in from folks we didn’t send cards to, and we have run out of the pretty personalized cards we bought.
Is the joy slipping away? What can we do?
1. Remember everyone else is stressed. It’s your chance to be a hero.
2. Remember stress is mostly self-imposed.
3. Forget the illusion of the perfect Christmas. If you do Christmas too well, you’ll just make some folks you love jealous.
4. Commit to reducing the stress of as many as you can. Make it a mission.
5. Revel in the many opportunities to forgive: the person who gives you the same gift they gave you last year, the person who gives you the present you gave them last year, the person who believed you when you said you really didn’t want anything this year, the person who takes the last special item from the shelf just as you grab for it, the family member who says “hope you are making X this year” when you hate X and did not plan to make it.
6. Consider that lack of joy may be rooted in that sin in your life that you just can’t seem to beat.
7. Instead of driving through the richest neighborhoods in town to look at lights, (which always makes me feel lazy and poor) try driving through the poorest sections and pray for those who live there and get a new perspective on how blessed you are.
8. Set your eyes on Jesus; the author and perfecter of your faith. Look again at the manger not as a cute cradle but a feeding trough.
9. Hug someone and wish them a Merry Christmas, tell them you love them and do it loud enough for someone else to hear. You get extra points if that someone really needs a hug and really doesn’t deserve one.
I feel the joy returning.