How to Connect in the Holiday Season
This time of year can be the most beautiful for some, and for others one of the most difficult. If you've lost someone close to you, or have strain in family/friend relationships, the holiday season can be especially hard. Even for those of us who have historically experienced the holidays as fun and festive time can still get caught up in the tasks, business, politics and trip-ups that can quickly sap the joy right out of this season. If you missed Pastor Doug's blog about staying connected to the purpose of Christmas, I would highly recommend giving it a read. (click here) Remaining focused on the true worth of celebrating this year is so vital! Now that we have our focus in the correct place, let's talk about staying in community during this season. We all need to connect with other humans at some level. We weren’t made to operate alone and we are wired for relationship. The holidays can be a tough time emotionally and relationally; so how can we make sure we are creating healthy connections along the way?
Be intentional; quality over quantity. Let's cut through the noise. You don't have to go to every single party, social gathering and event you get an invite to; you have permission to choose which ones you're going to make the time for. Before accepting an invite, check in with yourself (and your family) and decide if it's the right choice. By saying "no" to some, you can say "yes" to the really meaningful gatherings and be 100% present when you attend them.
Make the first effort. On the other hand, if you're sitting on your own and waiting for the invitations to come pouring in, don't wait any longer! They say that “good things come to those who wait.” But when it comes to relationships and healthy community, I advocate instead that "good things come to those who act." Visit your neighbor, call up an old friend you haven't talked to in awhile, or open your home to a group of students who can't be at home and need a place to celebrate this year. Taking that first step and extending friendship will shift your circumstances and your perspective.
Don’t listen to the lie that it’s not worth the effort to gather together. The enemy would have us all lonely and fragmented if he could. When he can keep us out of community, we are like an animal of the herd that has lagged behind and becomes easy to pick on. He would have us forget that we need each other, but it's up to us to reject that belief and stand up for our relationships. Gathering as a body of believers is biblical, so don't neglect it! (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Do something active. If you’re feeling the holiday blues (lonely, disconnected, depressed), do something active to snap back to life. Just get moving: sign up to volunteer, consistently exercise, engage in worship! I know those things sound like the last thing you want to do when lethargy looks much more inviting, but steps towards action will do wonders to lifting your spirits and recapturing your joy.
It’s a societal issue in this current day that people feel like it’s too much work to be together. We've gotten comfortable with relating to people through screens and have lost the magic of human connection in person, in real time. Online connections can be good and the internet is a useful tool, but it doesn’t replace true “togetherness”.
"For where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am among them." Matthew 18:20 "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you re doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11
I know it can feel overwhelming, but give yourself permission to start small! Progress over perfection. When you’re out shopping and running errands, set your mind to bless the people you come in contact with. Patient kindness, a genuine smile and a heartfelt “Merry Christmas” will go a long way. Don't forget to make "How are you?" a question instead of a greeting!
Need some more inspiration? Here are some more suggestions for connecting during this season: -Volunteer at the Weld County Foodbank. -Join us for the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at Fusion. -Make or buy a box of Christmas cookies and visit your neighbor, an old friend or someone you know who might be lonely this season, such as a senior citizen or new widow. -If you've lost a loved one, create a new holiday tradition that honors that person and creates a remembrance of them in your celebrations, whether that's doing their favorite activity or setting aside time to pray and thank God for the impact they had in your life. (If you have a friend or acquaintance who lost someone dear to them, don't forget to reach out to them, as the holidays can be especially hard while they are grieving.) -Get a group of friends together and go caroling, either to houses of people you know or to a local retirement or nursing home. In conclusion: just ask yourself, who can you reach out to this season? Who can you make a meaningful connection with? How can you volunteer your time or generously give of your resources? We believe in family and community; let's connect this season! We look forward to seeing you soon and we wish you a very Merry Christmas!