Christmas, Priorities

Christmas: Finding Peace in a Stressful Season

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Peace on Earth. Good will to men.”

How many of us crave peace? ’Tis the season when we hear about it. We sing about peace. We talk about the Prince of Peace who came from heaven to earth on our behalf.

Yet, in a season when this word—peace—is tossed around like a fix-all, it seems tiny compared to the stress that pervades every moment.

Too often, rather than backing off on some of the normal things I do to make room for special Christmas activities, I add said activities to an already packed schedule. My shoulders feel weighted down by all the obligations.

Activities designed to be fun become “One more thing to do.”

Where’s the peace in that? How can we know the joy of the Christmas spirit when our to-do lists hold more tasks than we have time to accomplish?

No wonder I am exhausted come Christmas morning!

Please tell me I’m not the only one.

I’ve written about it before. I want to spend more of this season being in the presence of Jesus than doing for Jesus. Instead of getting caught up in the trappings of the season, I want my heart to be still enough to hear His promptings in the mornings and throughout each day.

Peace doesn’t come in the Doing. It comes through Being.

Two things I’m focusing on during this Christmas season are:

1. Spending time with Jesus in His word and in prayer. Daily. The season is busy enough that I may not have my normal amount of time in God’s word and reading a devotion each day. But, I intend to read in the Bible and bring all that’s on my heart to Him daily. This grounds me when all the to-do tasks pound around in my brain. I want to meditate on Advent, prepare my heart for celebrating the gift of Jesus taking on flesh.

2. Know my priorities and don’t add to them. What our family considers most important shifts from year to year. When Hubs travels in December, some things I like to do won’t get done that year.

Other years, we travel to be with family for Christmas, which also requires a shifting of priorities to account for being gone.

Each year, Hubs and I talk about what we believe are the most important priorities, and then we let the other things go.

No matter what the season holds, my top priorities remain: spending time being refreshed by Jesus, and time with my family and friends during this Christmas season.

Even as I write, I’m considering what I may need to back off on in order to live fully in those moments.

As Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Spending time with Jesus and cutting back on activity may be the best gift that we give to our families this year.

Let’s allow peace to settle into our spirits during this hectic holiday season.

What about you? How do you balance everything in the season so you can enjoy being with Jesus? How do you establish your priorities during the Christmas season?

Click to Tweet: How do we find peace in the busy-ness of the Christmas season?

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkUp, Jennifer Dukes Lee, and Holley Gerth

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39 thoughts on “Christmas: Finding Peace in a Stressful Season”

  1. I’m asking You God, to give me what You have left.
    Give me those things which others never ask of You.
    I don’t ask You for rest, or tranquility.
    Not that of the spirit, the body, or the mind.
    I don’t ask You for wealth, or success, or even health.
    All those things are asked of You so much Lord,
    that you can’t have any left to give.
    Give me instead Lord what You have left.
    Give me what others don’t want.
    I want uncertainty and doubt.
    I want torment and battle.
    And I ask that You give them to me now and forever Lord,
    so I can be sure to always have them,
    because I won’t always have the strength to ask again.
    But give me also the courage, the energy,
    and the spirit to face them.
    I ask You these things Lord,
    because I can’t ask them of myself.

    – Andre Zirnheld

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    1. Andrew, I’m thinking about and praying for you today, friend. And the best thing is? God never runs out of resources. And I suspect He loves your heart to embrace the hard. Sending you gentle hugs.

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  2. Hi Jeanne. I enjoyed this post along with your photos. You make an excellent point about knowing our priorities and not taking on too much this season. I’m planning my December blog posts according to that advice. Thank you!

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    1. Sarah, every Christmas season I come to this time determined to do things differently. And almost every Christmas morning, I’m exhausted. God is showing me the importance of priorities. Of letting some things go for the month so I can add other things that only come at this time of year. you know? I hope your Christmas season holds space to breathe in His Spirit and much joy.

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  3. Jeanne, I especially love this: “Peace doesn’t come in the Doing. It comes through Being.” Amen, my friend! I love how intentional you are about this. I’m thinking hard about December priorities too, and I’m leaning toward taking a few weeks off from blogging around Christmas. I’ve not done that before, but the writing well seems to be running dry lately and I hate to waste time staring at a screen when the words refuse to come!

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    1. Lois, I’m working on being more intentional, but I’m such a work in progress in this area! I plan to take a few weeks off of blogging in December too. I want to have time to be with family and to complete other things without feeling the stress I’ve felt in previous years. And yes, when the writing well runs dry, we need time to replenish, don’t we? Thank you for adding your thoughts here, friend!

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  4. Jeanne,
    I can’t wait to start my Advent devotion – Ann Voskamp’s “The Greatest Gift” daily devotion and then I hang each paper ornament on my Jesse Tree. Doing this first thing in the morning starting on the 1st reprograms my mind as to what this season is all about. I also think I will write one more blog post and then give myself a much needed break throughout Christmas. Because, like you said, it just becomes one more thing “to do”….and like you, I want to “be” in His presence.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, I read through Ann’s book each Advent season too. It’s good to change things up during this season. Sometimes that seems to help me be more attuned to things the Lord may want to share with me. I plan to take some time off from blogging in December too. It sounds like you have a great plan to allow you to BE at the foot of Jesus. Thank you for sharing your plan here, my friend!

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  5. I love this truth – “Peace doesn’t come in the Doing. It comes through Being.” So very true! I need to constantly be reminded of this. Chronic illness kind of forces me to have a quiet, slow routine, and I easily beat myself up for not “doing” more. Thank you, Jeanne. I hope the Advent season is more relaxing for you so you won’t be so bushed on Christmas Day! I know that’s hard though with kids in tow. 🙂 Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Trudy, I imagine chronic illness forces a lot of slowing down in activities. It’s easy to beat ourselves up for not doing enough. We live in a culture that glorifies over-achieving and accomplishing. Sometimes accomplishing comes best after spending time with Jesus and knowing His plans and living those out. I hope your Advent season and Christmas are truly celebrations. So thankful for you, friend!

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  6. Hi Jeanne, it’s nice to meet you through the #TellHisStory linkup. Your post resonates deep with me as I sense this calling too. It’s been the subject of more than one conversation. We won’t have the funds to spend much this holiday season, and it reminds me of one more reason to get creative about enjoying time together as a family. Thank you for sharing your heart’s cry and calling us to cry to Him.

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    1. Jolene, I’m so glad you’re finding creative ways to spend time together as a family. That’s where the best memories happen and bonds deepen, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing that this is a great way to Be during the Christmas season. I’m so glad you stopped by. It’s nice to “meet” you. 🙂

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  7. Your words echo my own thoughts that I am trying to act on during this season. I love the thought of being. It is something I have been practicing not just during the holidays but all year round.

    I know what it is like to set priorities and how important it is to focus on what is most important. I pray you and your family are able to enjoy peace and each other during this busy time. You are such a blessing to me and your readers.

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    1. Mary, I’ve been trying to “Be” in each moment too. I guess I feel the biggest struggle with just Being during this season. Kudos to you for establishing this as a way of living! I’m working on it. 🙂 Thank you for those prayers. I’ll take ’em! And thank you for your encouragement. I hope your Christmas season finds you with time to be still before Jesus and know His presence in special ways. You bless me, friend!

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  8. 2. Know my priorities and don’t add to them. Oh yes! I can get wish washy and then add to them. Writing down your priorities with your husband I’m sure helps you both stay accountable! What a wonderful thing to do together to help each other stay on track too.

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    1. Lynn, I can get sissy washy too. And then I get overcommitted . . . and it goes downhill from there. Talking through things with my husband is very helpful. I’m fortunate to have a guy who isn’t keen on being overcommitted. He helps me stay more balanced. Have a great week, friend!

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  9. Hi Jeanne, I discovered what I needed most was some margin in my life. Set some priorities, draw my boundary lines but leave enough of a margin so that if I fail and cross the line, I won’t tumble over the cliff.
    I also discovered that I have to prioritize my visit with Jesus for the first thing in the morning or I risk missing it completely.

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    1. Margin….yes. I love the idea of drawing the boundary lines but leaving enough margin for those times when I may cross the boundary line. Tumbling over the cliff at Christmas isn’t fun. I’m with you, Gene. I almost always have my time with Jesus first thing in the morning, or right after dropping off the boys at school. Thank you for sharing your insights!

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  10. Dear Jeanne, I’m so thankful you posted this article at the beginning of Advent, not the middle. Our next 3 weekends are jam-packed with our kids and grandkids, two of them including out of town trips. When I start to freak about how to manage the house stuff, too, I have to stop and remind myself of what’s really important : FAMILY. Thank you for the gentle reminder to keep Jesus at the top of of the list, and everything else will fall into place or fall away. XOXO

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    1. Alice, I thought for a bit about if this was the right article to post this week. I came to the same conclusion as you. Having an intentional mindset heading into Christmas is so helpful. I’m learning that when I add Christmas activities to the calendar, I need to remove other activities. This is helping me not feel so stressed (at least so far! 😉 ). I agree, family is really, really important. I hope your Christmas season is beautiful and filled with the laughter of children and grandchildren, my friend.

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  11. Ummm, organized? Priorities? What you talkin’ ’bout, Jeanne?!! We’re not even putting Christmas lights up this year…So, maybe we do have our priorities. We’ll be going to Alaska for two weeks at Christmas to spend time with our daughter, her husband, and our grandson. Between now and when our flights leave, I’ll have two days off, and a huge project due that’s adding 3 hours a day to my normal schedule. I’m clinging to my quiet time each morning to get me through this season of work and enjoying everyones’ Christmas decorations vicariously ;).

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    1. You made me smile, Anita. It sounds like you do have your priorities. You have a busy season ahead of you. I’ll be saying a prayer for you that your time with Jesus each morning is sweet and strengthening. And that God stretches your time each day. Hugs, friend!

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  12. “Too often, rather than backing off on some of the normal things I do to make room for special Christmas activities, I add said activities to an already packed schedule. My shoulders feel weighted down by all the obligations.”

    So very, very true! I’m torn between wanting the peaceful time and trying to get my decorations out. Images set the mood and enhance peace. But they take a great deal of work. Thanks and God bless!

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    1. Nancy, it seems like a feat to find the balance between peace and doing those things we enjoy for Christmas. My kids love having Christmas decorations out, so we got those out. But there are other things we won’t do this year. Some years, we simplify the decorations. Or maybe we don’t string up lights on the outside of the house. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season!

      I so appreciate you stopping by!

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  13. Dear Jeanne … I love that knowing and claiming of our priorities. And sticking with them despite all the demands and invitations of the season. Thank you for the reminder to say, ‘no, thanks.’

    Oddly enough, I find it easier and easier the older I get!

    ;-}

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    1. It’s taken me far too long to figure this whole Christmas priority thing out, Linda. But, I’m learning what’s most important to me and to our family, and many of my priorities focus on those things. And others have also said that growing older has helped them learn to say no to certain things at Christmas. Have a wonderful Christmas season, friend!

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  14. I’ve been thinking about this very thing lately. Your point about being versus doing is important for me, a recovering perfectionist who struggles not to idolize productivity. Thanks for sharing this message my heart needed to hear (again). xo

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    1. Kristin, this whole concept of being versus doing has been on my heart for a few years now. I think that’s why I’ve struggled with Christmas. I haven’t figured out how to find that balance. I think I’m getting closer though. ;0 I’m so glad you were blessed by this message. I always appreciate your visits, friend!

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  15. Absolutely agree. The pressure is on during the holiday seasons for us Christians, with blogging as no exception (the amount of ideas I have for my blog during the holiday season are starting to overwhelm me and weigh me down). I love that you’ve advised to “be” rather than “do”. I do try to pack as many activities in as I can because I love the season, but at the same time I am ultimately missing the point in doing all of those things! The balance is key – perhaps replacing other activities that are done all year long with seasonal activities, or slowing down on other commitments and putting family first is a better idea rather than trying to cram Christmas and ultimately Jesus into our pre-existing schedule. Thank you so much for this post and God bless you and your blog!

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    1. Rachel, over the past couple of years, I’ve actually taken a few weeks off from blogging. When there are so many other things calling for my attention, blogging become a stressor. And then there’s not much inspiration to share with others. 🙂

      I’ve had the years when I’ve tried to do it all, and I come to Christmas morning depleted. Yes, balance. I hope you—and each of us—can find it this Christmas season. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  16. Dear Jeanne

    “Christmas: Finding Peace in a Stressful Season” was a good read this morning.

    It was a gentle reminder to remember what the concept of peaceful means.

    That pattern of “one more thing to do” as you describe in your blog post is way too familiar to many of us.

    You’re not the only one, I can assure you.

    Your two suggestions (Spending time with Jesus in His word and prayer, daily + knowing our priorities) are helpful tools to keep us on the right track.

    Sometimes the best solution to our problems is just to ‘do less’.

    Have a blessed Christmas season.

    PS: Your blog post has such beautiful images.

    With love,
    Edna Davidsen

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  17. One thing that helps me stay focused on Christ during this season is to find ways to serve others, either through my church or even just a kind word or extra moment of patience with someone at work.

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    1. Christa, please forgive me for not responding sooner. Once mid-December hit, real life trumped writing life. 🙂 Now, things are calming down, and I’m looking forward to re-connecting with blogging friends. I love your idea of finding ways to serve others, especially during a season when the world tries to keep our focus on “Me.”

      I hope you had a beautiful Christmas and that your new year is off to a good start!

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