05 Dec Searching For Joy, Peace and Hope This Christmas
Navigating The Holidays Through Seasonal Depression
WRITTEN BY: Diane Perry
Christmas is a time of tenderness for the past, courage for the present, and hope for the future. We decorate, sing carols, bake cookies, and exchange gifts. Unfortunately, not everyone experiences these warm and fuzzy feelings during the holiday season. Many, maybe you too, deal with seasonal depression in spite of the joyous time of year. Maybe you feel the pressures of time restraints, limited finances, or difficult family gatherings perhaps due to abusive backgrounds, or drug and alcohol addicted families. Maybe you are facing grief and sadness that feels paralyzing. They are very real feelings that are often out of our control. There is no quick fix which often leads some into self-medicating behaviors to ease the pain. However, there is a God we can turn to. As Psalm 46:1(NLT) reminds us;
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”
So, are you, like me, searching for joy, peace and hope this season? With all the holiday stress and business, it is important to make time for self-care to help navigate our way through all the emotions in a healthy and uplifting way. How do we do this? Here are some tips:
Tip #1 Devote
First and foremost, we need to spend time with God in his Word and in prayer. We here at The Journey refer to this time as our slot and spot. I like to dedicate time first thing in the morning to seeing what God wants to speak into my life. I wake up with a melody in my heart, and a praise in my spirit that brings me comfort and peace with Jesus. I listen to praise and worship music that has true meaning to how I feel in that moment. One of my favorites is “Too Good to Not Believe” by Cody Carnes and Brandon Lake. Find one that speaks to you and spend time in worship.
Tip #2 Rest
Make time to rest and reflect on God’s promises. Be sure to get plenty of sleep. If this is a difficult thing to do, practice a bedtime routine. For example, I find that shutting out the world around me and meditating on God’s Word is a helpful way to rest my mind. Also, dedicating a full day to restful and replenishing activities and emerging into God’s Word is what we refer to as a Sabbath.
Tip #3 Connect
J-Groups provide a great source for building meaningful relationships. Whatever your need is, we have a J-Group for you! There are groups that help with anxiety, depression, etc., as well as ones that spotlight fun with the family and many more! I lead one called Empowering Women for God’s Kingdom, and was born from my story of physical and verbal abuse to help other women who have or are going through similar situations to help them to navigate their way through with God. There is power in connection with others who can relate to the situations/circumstances you may be facing. We are meant to do life together! So, who can you connect with this Holiday Season?
Tip 4: Focus
This can be a tough time as well as a joyous time of the year for many of us. Remember the reason for the season is our Emmanuel—God is with us. Focus your thoughts on Jesus and his special gift to each of us. One that can never be earned and is given to all who trust in him regardless of past experiences or failures. Jesus was no stranger to suffering. He was born in a manger, not a warm bed. Rejected by his own people, and denied by his own friends. Falsely accused, bruised, and tortured all for our sake. Jesus understands and empathizes with our brokenness (Hebrews 4:15 NIV) and waits for each of us to run to him in order to receive the gift he offers. A gift of hope. A gift of salvation. A gift of mercy and grace.
So, this Holiday Season, whatever we are facing, let our hearts and minds be filled with joy, peace, and hope that can only be found in Jesus.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NLT
Have a blessed Christmas!
Diane Perry/ Assistant Director for Admin Team and Women’s J-group Team Leader
Diane Perry is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She has valued the importance of caring for women who are in need of emotional support due to her own difficult life experiences. Diane also loves connecting with women in her J-Group, watching Christmas movies and eating pop-corn.