I have fond memories of Christmas’s past. Memories of when the kids were little and we decorated the tree, baked cookies, created traditions and opened presents. But looking back I have regrets about how “hurried” the Christmas season was.
As I’ve been reflecting on the Christmas story, I’m struck by the time Mary and Elizabeth spent together. According to Luke 1:56, Mary spent three months with Elizabeth. I can just imagine them sitting and having coffee together, reflecting on the miracle of both their pregnancies. They likely processed their hopes and fears for their babies. Perhaps they spent time chatting about the angelic visitations they had both experienced. Undistracted by cell phones and computers, they likely spent long hours in deep conversation. What a beautiful example of deep friendship and fellowship!
As we enter this sacred time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we need to remember that His call is to love others. We can’t really love others well unless we slow down long enough to focus on them, enjoy them and engage with them. In all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I’d like to offer a challenge – let’s seek to give those we love the gift of our unhurried presence this year. What does that look like in practical terms? Here are just a few suggestions:
Turn off your phone. I believe we are more distracted than ever before. Don’t throw out your cell phone but do set limits. It’s hard to go to coffee with someone if they’re scanning their phone the entire time. Dare to put your phone away several times per day – perhaps start with 15 or 20 minutes twice a day. If you’re raising a family, pass a basket at the dinner table and have everyone put their phone in the basket. Put the basket in a different room so you can offer each other your full presence.
Recently, one of my dear friends and I had coffee together. Neither of us had our phones out and it was so life-giving! We talked about the Lord and what He was teaching us both and how we could pray for each other. We shared the struggles and triumphs of the past few months. I’m convinced many feel disconnected because they’re living a distracted life. Put your phone away and see how much more connected you feel.
Take charge of your schedule. No one is going to set boundaries for you. You need to do that yourself. So, rather than letting others run your schedule, take charge. Think through what’s reasonable and enjoyable and then say “no” to everything else. Will others misunderstand? Quite possibly, yes. But it’s okay. Give yourself permission to feel misunderstood. The truth is, if you’re wanting meaningful connection, less is better than more during the holidays.
Practice stillness every day. The Psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). For so many of us, stillness is torture! But here’s the thing, your body and soul need stillness to connect with God. When you first wake up in the morning, practice being still for a few minutes. Sit before the Lord and ask Him to speak to you and then listen. Turn off the clutter in your mind. Surrender your “to do” list and just be silent. You might try repeating this phrase during your stillness time: “Jesus, I love you.”
Friend, getting things done is never more important than seeking a loving relationship with God and others. Seek to give others the gift of your unhurried self this season, and the amazing surprise will be that you will feel more connected and happier yourself.
Steve and I are in Florida. Yesterday we had a wonderful time at Bold City Church where Steve was preaching. Now we are having a focused week of writing in Naples, Florida.
How you can pray
Please pray as I finish a writing project due December 15th.
Please pray for a great end of the year giving for Reach Beyond. Did you know that you can have a part in leading unreached people to Jesus through your giving? We’d love you to consider partnering with us so that unreached people everywhere find Jesus! https://reachbeyond.org Your gift of any size helps make Christ known among the least reached!