Thrive – Don’t Just Survive the Holidays

Thrive - Don't just survive the holidays. How to find joy in the holidays, even when your heart is breaking. http://www.myranoel.com/thrive-dont-just-survive-holidaysThe Challenge:

Holidays. For many people, this word conjures up images of days off, family, favorite foods, and all sorts of lovely memories. I love holidays. When I was growing up, they were all about family. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite. In the last few years, the approaching holidays have brought sadness instead of anticipation. There have been more tears than laughter. I started to dread them.

Last Thanksgiving I cried through most of the weekend with friends (mostly when I was in my room, not in front of everyone). On Christmas, it was almost a relief that my husband was sick, because I was focused on caring for him and preparing to move, instead of on what could/should have been. It was sad, and I was ashamed. What do you do when grief causes these special days to turn into painful reminders of your loss or sorrow?

This past Mother’s Day was a turning point for me. I knew there would be moments of sadness, but I determined ahead of time to find joy and not mope through the day. I’m planning that again for Thanksgiving and Christmas. So how does one go from dreading holidays to embracing them? For me, it was focus. (When I think about it, most everything comes down to focus.)

The Plan:

On Mother’s Day I determined not to focus on the fact that all of my children were in Heaven. I will never forget that fact, and it will always hurt, but I chose not to focus on the pain. You know the enemy came to tempt me back to focusing on myself, but I consistently brought my thoughts back into subjection by choosing to focus them on something else. I looked for ways to minister to others. I prayed for opportunities to be a blessing to someone. I didn’t just take the day and pain as it came, but lived that day with purpose. I did the same thing for Father’s Day, which is just as hard for me as Mother’s Day.

Although I was determined, I wasn’t totally convinced it would work. I somewhat expected to be depressed by the end of the day, but I was surprised at how blessed Mother’s Day was. When the pain came, I asked God to hug my babies for me, and immediately turned my mind to someone else. I wasn’t denying the pain, I just chose not to focus on it. God blessed beyond my hopes.

Do You Have a Plan?

What is your plan for the holidays? When the pain sweeps over you like a flood, will you be carried away with it? Will you hide in your grief? Or will you approach the holidays with a plan to be a blessing, while expecting God to bless you? Live these days with purpose! Start thinking of your blessings now, so you are thankful on Thanksgiving. Plan today how you can be a blessing to someone at Christmas. Most important of all, keep your mind and heart stayed on the God who gives comfort and peace that passeth all understanding.

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

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