I live a blessed life. I’m not rich and all my dreams haven’t been fulfilled – I’m guessing the same is true for you. But being blessed isn’t a matter of how much money you have or what you’ve been able to experience or accomplish. Living a blessed life has to do with your relationship with Christ and living in that relationship. Jesus said that He came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. He came so that we might have the promise of eternal life and the experience of a blessed life while still on this earth. I undoubtedly enjoy God’s many blessings.

Still, I find myself in the group of people who fight the holiday blues. As I grow older, I find that the battle waged in my mind grows more difficult to overcome.

Fortunately, as I’ve grown older, I’ve chosen to pursue God consistently, so hopefully my ability to win those battles has grown as well.

I’m tempted to give examples of things that cause me to be bluesy. That would be falling into the enemy’s trap. It would be encouraging a bit of self-pity. You can all fill in the blanks if you like or just understand that I’m a lot like many of you – feeling down at a time of year when it seems that the world is feeling joyful.

So it seemed a good blog would be the transparent one that shares how I’m dealing with my blues. Maybe they will help you fight the good fight.

  • Don’t dwell on the reasons for your blues. It’s really tempting, but don’t do it.
  • Without dwelling on the reasons for your blues, if you’re aware of specific issues, make plans to counteract your feelings or change the situation. For example, something happened today that made me feel isolated and therefore lonely. Don’t rest in that place, take action – In my situation, I need to call a friend and arrange a “play date.”
  • Pray, asking God to reveal Himself to you in a new way during this season. I’ve done that this year and God has been so faithful.
  • Plan activities that don’t draw attention to the reasons for your blues. For example, the first year after Phil’s mom died, we had a very unconventional Christmas. I knew it would be a very hard time for him, so we didn’t do have a “normal” Christmas. We painted our living room over the holiday weekend, taking time out only to visit family for dinner. We had the opportunity to be a part of the celebration but kept ourselves busy at other times.
  • Focus on praise. Yes, I know that’s hard work, but there is much to praise God for even when we’re feeling bluesy.
  • Be more intentional about playing your favorite Christian music in the background (or foreground).
  • Practice more giving – especially of yourself. Volunteer to serve meals at a shelter, visit nursing homes, organize food drives and gift-giving opportunities. You will be blessed. And you’ll sleep better each night when you’ve given of yourself during the day.
  •  Spend some time in prayer reviewing your year and asking God what your focus should be for 2014.
  • Give a gift to Jesus. Again, spend some time in prayer – ask Jesus what He would like you to give Him this year.
  • Cut yourself some slack. You don’t have to be busy all the time and you don’t have to be the perfect wife, mother, daughter, friend at a time when there’s too much to do. Don’t over commit, and if you do, graciously bow out.
  • Smile and be friendly when you’re out and about. It’s so tempting to ignore everyone you pass by as you shop or run errands. Resist! You’ll be surprised at how better you feel when you make the effort to smile and be friendly to everyone you see – everyone!
  • Enjoy your memories. If/when they start to swallow you, change the subject. But let yourself enjoy them in the meantime.
  • Let go of unrealistic expectations. My mom lives in a nursing home. I miss “real Christmases.” I’ve learned to let go of the expectation that our Christmas gatherings will be enjoyable in the way that we used to enjoy Christmas. We’ll enjoy Christmas differently. I’ve come to learn that pretty much no one has the idea Christmas we all look forward to. Every family has their own difficulties. So let go of your unrealistic expectations and you’ll enjoy your Christmas season a whole lot more.
  • Be proactive in your planning over the holiday. If being too busy makes you vulnerable to becoming depressed, be sure to allow enough down time. If being alone leads to the blues, plan to be active. This year we’ll spend Christmas Eve day with my mom to celebrate Christmas, then Christmas Eve at a church service; Phil has to work 7am-3pm on Christmas Day and then 3-11pm on December 26 and 27. I am sure part of my blues is feeling like I have no Christmas with my husband. So I’m praying that God will give me a creative way to enjoy the holiday with Phil. (I’ll be honest – the praying is a new thing on this issue. I’ve been wracking my brain over this for a week or so…then I remembered that praying is more effective. :-))
  • Enjoy some special foods without feeling guilt! In fact, let go of guilt about everything over the holidays (and beyond). Stay close to the Holy Spirit and yield to conviction, but reject guilt.
  • Ask for help if you find yourself battling the blues unsuccessfully. Don’t let them take root because they are hard to uproot.

God is good, but we live in a fallen world. Don’t let the enemy of this world steal your joy for the next one! Enjoy your Christmas season.

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