Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Elusive Spirit of Christmas—One Scary Ghost Story

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? I Corinthians 3:16

How is your Christmas season shaping up? For so many of us, this time of year is a mad dash of insane commitments and looming expectations. It’s not just the presents or the gatherings—although those alone can be overwhelming. The real Christmas killer, in my opinion, is that elusive Christmas Spirit we’re all supposed to be filled with—like some kind of nebulous holiday ectoplasm.

If you ask me, that’s one scary ghost.

It’s frightening because it’s imaginary, not to mention completely unattainable. And in case you didn’t know, there is nothing in God’s word that propels us toward this unreachable pinnacle of holiday perfection—not a single verse. The only spirit we’re to be filled with is the Holy Spirit and He’s with us year round.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things we need to strive toward when it comes to holiness. But the idea that we have to be super-Christians during the holidays is a lie of mythic proportions.

I’m not against celebrating Christmas, far from it. It’s the time when we commemorate the birth of our Savior. But we’ve turned this season into an incalculable measure of holiness—a mark on the spiritual scale that we’re all attempting to reach.

This doesn’t do anything except add pressure to an already impossible situation.

So what’s a person to do?

Ghost-Busting Strategies for the Holidays 
  • Look up, then look around. Pray to see the world around us through the eyes of Christ. (Drive by random act of kindness)
  • Slow down, this isn't a sprint to the end of the year. Sometimes I find myself wishing I could just hang on until...  That's when I'm reminded of something my husband told me when the boys were little. He warned me not to wish our kids' lives away by hurrying to the next year.
  • Be deliberate about creating breathing space in your life. It doesn't just happen, we have to carve out that space. Maybe it means a less elaborate feast for the holiday or choosing to sit with a hurting friend rather than a trip to the mall. But fight for it and you'll find time to recharge.
  • Double up on your devotion time. The less time I have, the tighter the deadlines, the MORE time I need to spend with God.
  • Reprioritize and put relationships first. We all know we need to make time for family, but I've learned it's just as important to make room for friends. Make the extra effort to meet for coffee or lunch or dinner, invite them to your house. They won't remember the dust bunnies, they'll remember the time spent together.
  • Let go of expectations. Decide right now to embrace the fact that the true joy of Christmas begins and ends with God. Sure it’s great to go and do, but people will always disappoint us. Instead, when our focus remains on God, we’re protected from the friction that can arise during the holidays.
  • Unplug and recharge. Step outside, go for a walk, play frisbee golf or build a tightrope in the trees. Kids are great at this. Let them set the example.
  • Choose joy. Catastrophes happen, some days it seems that chaos is the only order of the day. That doesn't matter. We have a choice. We can believe that God is with us and has plans to prosper us, not to harm us. Or we can believe life is bad and the worst will happen. It's a choice—a simple one—but not an easy one. But to refuse to choose joy is to turn our backs on God and declare that, in this situation, He is NOT able.
  • Make plans, but embrace the detours. Life isn't going to go as we envision, but that doesn't mean disappointment. It means adventure, new opportunities and abundant blessings.
We serve a God who loves the scenic route. Taking off from the main road isn't the thing of ghost stories, it's a lifetime of adventure. So take a look around you right now. We're in a unique place, a place that has a lot to teach us, a place we'll never be able to return to. We can't afford to waste the experiences we have access to right now.

Life rarely goes as planned, so it’s time to get over that fable. Enjoy the journey and embrace the process. Go deep and wide with God, and no matter what ghosts appear we'll have the covering of peace to thrive.

Edie Melson—author, editor, and blogger—is a leading professional within the writing industry, as well as a popular inspirational speaker and mentor. She’s the author of While My Soldier Serves: Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military (Worthy Inspired). She’s also the military family blogger for Guideposts at While They Serve. In addition, as a respected expert in social media, Edie has the proven expertise to teach others how to plug in without sacrificing valuable writing time. Her bestselling eBook on this subject, has recently been updated, expanded and re-released as Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers. Connect with her on her popular blog for writers, The Write Conversation, which reaches thousands each month, and through Twitter and Facebook.