I’m a terrible multi-tasker. I used to think of myself as skilled in this area. I no longer consider multi-tasking a strength of mine. I’ve even justified my poor abilities with the idea that multi-tasking is over-rated anyway.
Honestly though, when I get emotionally overwhelmed or just have way too many things on my plate at the moment I tend to get one-track minded. Even hyper-focused. So much so that all other things fall by the wayside. Even the basics like eating and drinking water.
Am I crazy?
Well, probably a little. This is who I am. Who I sometimes struggle with.
And though Christmas is my very favorite time of the year, sometimes the holidays bring out the worst in me. The stressed, overloaded, panic-attack ensuing me.
It’s not what I hope for the holidays.
And it’s not really the norm for me during the holidays.
But this year, it is. And I’m so not loving it.
My calendar seems to fill up faster than there are days. My to-do list is ever growing when it should be shrinking. My emotions are strained. My time is limited. My house is messy.
Isn’t that supposed to make me some kind of expert? The queen of all things simple? I’m not supposed to get caught up in the overwhelm of the holidays.
And yet, here I am, struggling to get through the day just as I’m embarking on a new Advent post series titled “A Simple Christmas.”
Hope in the Darkness
When I am finding myself in darkness I tend to feel distant from God. In fact when I would usually clearly hear Him, His voice becomes muffled and it often just blends into the background noise of my life.
I don’t believe God ever leaves me. I don’t believe He ever stops talking to me or guiding me. It’s my discernment of the Holy Spirit that gets fuzzy.
It’s my one-track mindedness that keeps me out of the Word while I’m trying to accomplish my long list of tasks. It’s my lack of sleep that keeps me wired on sugar and caffeine without being able to slow down and just be still long enough to seek out God in prayer.
So, it seems that God is using me this week. For this message. The message I need to hear.
A message about keeping Christmas simple. About choosing stillness in chaos. About making changes in how we experience the holidays.
If you are finding yourself pulling back, buried in the crazy, then this message…well, it’s for you too.
All I know is something’s gotta give. The Christmas season is usually when I come alive. It’s my time of the year. I breathe in the love and joy and magic. I relish in the events, special moments, and even shopping. I want to feel that this year.
I choose hope. I choose hope, even in the darkness. And that hope…it’s in Him.
Hope. Love. Joy. Peace. They all came down at Christmas in a baby Jesus born in a manger.
Acts of Kindness = Signs of Hope
Ok, so my original thought-process for the “A Simple Christmas” series on CWC was to focus on the four pillars of Advent. Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. And to give my readers ideas for implementing and sharing all of these wonderful gifts that Christmas brings us.
But I’m going to be honest. When you are struggling to find hope yourself, it is hard to give hope to others.
Yet, I have found that the very best way to instill hope in your own circumstances, however difficult they may be, is by taking the focus off of yourself and placing it on the needs of others.
But, please, promise me one thing. This list doesn’t need to become a part of your Christmas to-do list or even your holiday happenings. It is simply an idea list. If you can try one thing, just one thing, to give hope through an act of kindness, well, that’s a win in my book.
I’m a lister. But this list is not meant to add to the overwhelm. It is meant to shift your focus. To slow your roll. To let Christmas in.
Here are some ideas on how you can Give Hope with Acts of Kindness:
- Pay a Stranger’s Bill: Have you ever been a recipient of someone’s generosity at a coffee shop? Have you ever had someone anonymously pay for your lunch ticket? If you have, then you know what joy this simple act can bring. You never know what picking up someone’s tab for them can mean. They may have fallen on hard times and be struggling to make the bills. They may just be having a rough day. Or maybe, they are doing just fine, but through your act of kindness, they opt to spread cheer by paying for the next person in line.
- Choose Kindness: The holidays can quickly turn into a time of rushing around, from one store to the next, from one event to the other. You can walk right by an elderly woman struggling to load her groceries. You may not even notice the Salvation Army bell ringer outside the store. Take a moment to slow down the rush and look around. Offer kindness to someone, anyone. You may just make their day.
- Show Up: We can all think of someone that has greater needs than our own. Maybe it is a neighbor in poor health. Or a friend going through a divorce. A loved one dealing with loss. You know who you are thinking of. How can you show up for them in their time of need? Offer support and encouragement the best way you know how.
- Pay It Forward: Don’t let a random act of kindness stop at you. If you are fortunate enough to receive kindness this holiday season, keep the kindness going by passing it on to the next person you come in contact with. Start a chain reaction by paying it forward.
- Words of Encouragement: We can go a whole year, even through the holidays, without ever truly expressing how much someone means to us. Tell someone you love why they inspire you. Share with a friend how much you appreciate them. Tell a store clerk how helpful they were. Boost someone’s spirits with a few words of encouragement.
- Give More: Ok, I know, this one sounds counter-intuitive. When you are frazzled the last thing you want to do is give more. But I’m not talking about buying more presents here. I’m saying give more to charity. Drop some cash in the Salvation Army kettles. Purchase an extra bag of groceries for the local food bank. Drop off blankets and coats to a shelter.
- Think of Others: Take a moment to think of someone you know in your life that may not ask for help. Who could you offer to babysit for? Is there someone you could make a freezer meal for? What about helping someone clean before company comes home? Or offering to pick something up at the store on a grocery run? Is there someone you know that is struggling to find the urge to decorate their home this Christmas? Maybe all they need is a little nudge from a friend.
- Give Time: Giving doesn’t always require money or donating physical items. When you feel like you have nothing you can give, find ways to give of your time. I know you may not feel like you have any of that to spare either. But time doesn’t have to mean all day or even several hours. A couple hours in a soup kitchen, an extra fifteen minutes before church to help greet visitors, an hour timeslot to volunteer for a local nonprofit. Use what time you do have, find some you can spare, and give your time to others. I promise you’ll feel better and fulfill your own hope in the process.
Kindness can go a long way in offering hope to others. Look for opportunities to give hope this Christmas.
Searching for Hope
When you find yourself searching for hope, do your best to look outside of yourself. What can you give away to someone in need? How can you make a difference in someone’s life?
Find true holiday spirit in giving more to others.
And, hopefully, in the process of sacrificing your own time, money, and efforts, you will be drawn closer to God, recalling the greatest sacrifice of all. Given for us on a cross. Born in a stable.
May a simple Christmas strengthen your faith, fill you with love, and instill in you a hope that cannot be extinguished.
Would you consider joining me as I attempt to look at Christmas a bit differently this year? Mind you, I’m a work in progress. But this week was my first step in pulling myself up out of the darkness. In sharing with you my struggles and now my desire to find hope this Christmas I already feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
So thank you, dear readers and followers, for reading along. For listening and accepting me, flaws and all. And for joining me in experiencing “A Simple Christmas.”
Start a conversation by commenting at the bottom of the page:
Do you remember times when you experienced a simpler Christmas? What was different about those times?
What does the world teach us about Christmas? How can your family buck the trend this year?
Are you inspired to Give Hope through Acts of Kindness this year? What other simple ideas can you share with CWC readers on giving hope this Christmas?