ONCE upon a Christmas-season morning, I freaked out in my living room. I am not sure what was said to or asked of me that Saturday morning, but it was all I could bear, and I lost it. All my ugly, stuffed emotions erupted. My five males and one dog watched in horror as I screeched and wailed.
In holiday’s past, I was an exhausted mom – over doing, over being, overspending, and overwhelming my people! But because I attend the school of Holiday Hard Knocks, I learned from my tendency to over-everything, and today I have a passing report card.
My pleaser personality was so hyper-focused on creating a beautiful, abundant holiday for others, that I left my tightly wound, empty, exhausted, and on the brink of eruption-self behind. When the clock struck January 1, I felt like I had somewhat missed the season – my soul and body drained.
Along the way, I decided I didn’t want to miss it anymore.
I learned to abundantly experience the holidays and prioritize Expectations and Soul-care/Self-care.
Expectations are resentments waiting to happen
In the school of Holiday Hard Knocks, I failed the Expectation Class, multiple times.
Unmet expectations can be crippling. Even devastating. They can rob our holiday joy and replace it with coal, or a holiday tizzy fit.
It is vital to look with clear eyes at our plans and communicate with loved ones (and ourselves!) about gifts, family gatherings, financial realities, and… fill in your blank. I find it best not to make assumptions or to place my hope in people or situations until communication has taken place. And even then, I aim to keep an open hand and heart with eyes of grace. Friends, relatives, coworkers, and neighbors can and will disappoint. As do we.
Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel
As I asses my self-care, I divide it into three categories: spiritual, emotional, and physical…
~My favorite way to begin a new day is on my blue chair, with my blue Bible. A time of quiet with just me and God (and two over-cuddly pups). Each day of Advent I touch base with my Savior and His Word, I read Advent scripture as I prepare Him room. A morning slice of free therapy. This soul-care fills me with a deep breath of abundance as I face the day. See:https://wp.me/p4RztF-17T
~We touched on expectations as key in maintaining emotional health this time of year, yet other areas may need emotional attention, too. I often brushed my feelings aside in those chaotic years when my wild brood was young. Sometimes, the results were not so pretty.
This may be a year of grief and loss. Perhaps there are torn relationships, maybe a new reality after divorce. A sick family member or a prodigal child. Often counseling or support is needed. We must tend to our emotions.
~The weather outside might be frightful but that’s no excuse not to care for ourselves. Put those walking shoes on and step out into the crisp air. I am writing you a prescription today- take care of your physical-self: rest, eat well, and move your body. We all know the profits pay in dividends.
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NASB)
Even in the holidays.
My boys are almost all grown and don’t expect an over staged performance by Mom to make their season special. But even if they did, I would not perform like the old me. Along the way, the practice of soul and self-care and managing expectations turned to treasured wisdom. Hopefully, the days of mom-explosions are behind. My life is different now, not easier, but different.
These days, I am in the middle of a family sandwich. I help care for my dad who lives an hour away. My boys are older, yet they still need me. Sometimes intensely. And among these and other challenges, my health is not always peachy.
Therefore, as I jump on the Advent road, I contemplate ways I may savor and cherish the season with intention.
My friend, I imagine your life circumstances may not be stress-free either. I pray you will touch base with God each day and intentionally revel in the moments of the season by managing expectations and caring for yourself body and soul.
Advent blessings to you!
1. What are your holiday expectations?
2. Are there expectations placed on you by others?
3. How will you touch base with God each Advent day?
4. How will you live intentionally & abundantly this Advent season?