Putting Peace Back in the Holidays

Aren’t the holidays a conundrum? We walk into the calendar season with a whole list of expectations. Things like social events, quality time with loved ones and festive activities. We expect to feel all the warm-fuzzies: joy, excitement, being loved. Goodwill and peace toward all men.

It’s a long order to fill. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we don’t. In my life, one feeling in particular has been most elusive: peace. 

What does peace feel like? For me, it’s a sense of fulfillment. Not worrying over my to-do list. Being present, living in the moment and embracing — physically or emotionally — those around me. There’s no fear of judgement, solitude or being forgotten.

To sing the common song of woe: many of us don’t have peace, especially during the holidays. 

“What’s gone wrong?” we ask. Where did we miss the train? Were we bamboozled into trading the peace for the frantic, frazzled, anxious mess we’ve found ourselves in?

When I stop to think about it, I realize my answer was years in coming. My problem wasn’t just lacking peace, it was decidedly loathing the holidays. 

As a kid, I remember an underlying stress every Christmas. I listened to my family fret about gifts, money and bad weather. As an adult, I landed in a career where I worked early every holiday. And “holiday” in 911-Dispatcher lingo is synonymous with: long shift of drunk drivers, medical emergencies and domestic disturbances.

And even since quitting the EMS field, three of my last four Christmas’s have been spent moving right before or immediately after the holiday. It’s hard to feel festive with the gigantic chore of packing or unpacking filling your days.

All of these years I’ve known Jesus. Though silently in my heart remembered what Christmas meant, there has been very little peace.

cats-sleeping-on-chair
Even the felines enjoy peace during the holidays

Circumstances can’t stop a little baby.

I’m typing this while watching my kids play. My 3-year-old keeps taking ornaments off the tree (despite my constant reminder they are not toys) and baby Speedy just learned how to crawl past my make-shift barricade so she can antagonize her brother. Yet despite the loud, chaotic, playful morning they are having, I can see a sense of peace in their eyes.

Peace is where play lives. It’s where joy is felt. And it breeds fulfillment.

Peace is a funny thing. After years of knowing it’s absence in my life — and chasing it down with everything I’ve got — I could never fabricate its gentle touch in my day. In fact, I’m convinced the more I chase it and the harder I cling to it, the easier it slips from my grasp. We can use boundaries to invite it into our lives, but we can’t create peace itself.

All we can do is receive it.

Was there peace to be had in my life all those years, between the stress and emergency phone calls and the packing boxes? Without doubt I can say yes. Was God being mean by not letting me have it? Absolutely not. After all, Jesus came to Earth as a little baby some 2000 years ago. He was always right there, my Prince of Peace, and all I had to do was look beyond the circumstances and receive what He was trying to give me. 

It reminds me of this quote:

“Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world.

The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son.

The only requirement is to believe in Him.

The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.”

CORRIE TEN BOOM
sun-shining-through-covered-bridge

Holidays are a beautiful, blessed time. That doesn’t mean bad things don’t happen. Frankly, sometimes the most beautiful things are born out of adversity and struggle. But peace – the inner, Jesus breathed peace – allows us to endure, good times and bad. It allows us to receive the right gifts, not just the ones that we think are best for us. And sometimes it takes the absence of peace to go to the one-and-only who sustains and heals.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

ISAIAH 9:6

Have a similar experience? Or encouragement for other readers? Don’t hesitate to share below!

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