Dealing with Challenges in the Holiday Season
With all the excitement of the holidays, the beautiful Christmas decorations, and the sound of Christmas music on the radio, I can’t help thinking about all those who are dealing with challenges this Christmas season.
I look at people who have suffered great challenges this season, in the loss of a loved one, or people who have gone through job loss or financial difficulty. I look at children plagued with anxiety because their parents are going through a divorce, or those who have lost a parent. There are so many stresses that plague families, and no time is it felt more acutely than during the holiday season.
How are we as parents supposed to help our teens during this “joyful season” when life is not as it should be? I have personally found solace in reading Bible verses and below are a few of my favorites.
1. I have learned in whatever state I am therewith to be content.
This has been one of the hardest Bible verses for me to actually practice. How can you be content when the world as you know it is falling apart? How do you look at your children’s’ faces and tell them that this year there’ll be no Christmas gifts because you simply can’t afford it? As I grow older I’ve learned that all the hemming and hawing really does us no good. No matter what is going on around us, we still have control on how we choose to respond. At the end of the day will the anger and bitterness change our circumstances? Absolutely not! I’m slowly learning to grieve or express my anger or disappointment, depending on the situation and then to let it go. I’m learning to choose to be content, after I have done all I can about a problem and then let it go and expect the best. We need to master the art of contentment no matter our circumstances and then teach our teens to do the same.
2. Be still and know that I am God.
This verse is so reassuring. Sometimes in all the hustle and bustle of life, we start to believe that everything depends on us and we feel completely overwhelmed. We worry about our teens who are not doing well in school or who are hanging out with the wrong crowd. We worry about the bills to be paid and on and on the list goes. This is when we should take a time out and know that we can choose to trust God. Just think about it, how many of our fears actually materialize? Relax! Be still and know that God is still watching and strengthening us. Yes, sometimes life gets really tough and isn’t it reassuring to know that there is someone we can rely on? Always!
3. All things work together for good.
Do we really believe that all things work together for good when all we see around us is contrary to that? I see parents on TV, who have lost their teens to drugs and alcohol or to accidents, and I’m overwhelmed at how they take up the cause to prevent the same thing from happening to others. That to me is an example of all things working together for good. We see every day heroes who risk their lives to save others in accidents or from danger. Sometimes in the midst of our pain we can’t see the good around us, but we just have to lift our eyes to see how people contribute to make life better for others. Sometimes events happen that we don’t understand but often times we end up receiving something better if we keep a good attitude and have a spirit of expectancy. We should teach our teens to never give up no matter what they see around them and to keep believing that there is some good at the end of it all, and invariably, there always is.
4. Enter his gates with Thanksgiving
Psalm 100: 4
During the season of Advent we prepare our hearts for the joy of Christmas. We are preparing for a great event. The birth of our Lord, the hope of our salvation. How can we not be thankful? We always have hope for a better tomorrow. God is really good and as we learn to have an attitude of Thanksgiving, we truly learn to live life more fully. Thanksgiving gives us life and hope and energizes us every day to wake up and face the day with all its adventure and challenges. We learn to see the good in others and in ourselves. For those with younger children, it’s a good practice every day during Advent, to help them come up with one thing that they are thankful for. An attitude of thanksgiving prepares us for a life of great things.
The holidays can be stressful and I will never minimize the pain and trauma that people face every day in their lives. However we can choose how we respond to the various challenges we face. We can train ourselves and our teens to see the good in everything. We learn to be content, believing that everything is ultimately working out for our good. And the most reassuring part of it all is knowing with certainty that we are not alone, ever. Enter his gates with thanksgiving indeed for we have the best promise of all.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11