The holiday season is full of demands. We have our to-do lists that run longer than a novel: baking an old-fashioned fruit cake, mixing fresh snow into ice cream for the kids, and hand-embroidering a Christmas stocking for the pet hamster.
Okay, so not really. 🙂 But most of us feel the increased pressure in one form or another. Even without the holiday, we already struggle to keep up with the demands of work, family, and our activities. Add on to that decorating, shopping, wrapping presents, baking, extra concerts, work parties, and the mountain of stress builds until it becomes a volcano.
Often friends ask me how I manage to keep up with everything. In fact, just this past week a friend dropped off books for me to sign as Christmas presents for her family. As I told her my upcoming publication schedule for 2016 and the fact that I have four books releasing, she reeled in surprise. “How do you do it all. What’s your secret?”
My secret? Hmmm. . .
I really have no secret and constantly struggle with how to keep up with all of my responsibilities. However, there are two things I already do to an extent but need to do more often.
1. Show Grace.
First, we need to show grace to ourselves. We have to realize it’s physically impossible to keep up with all the demands of life. We can only do so much, and sometimes we just have to sit back and say, “I did enough. I wasn’t perfect. But it was enough for now.”
For me, this year that means I’m not doing a Christmas letter, even though I’ve done one almost every year since my husband and I got married almost 25 years ago. It also means that I have to be fine with taking boxed brownies (although sprinkled with Christmas M&M’s!) to a Christmas party instead of fancy homemade cookies.
It’s all too easy to get side-tracked by good, but lesser important priorities. I’m reading the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer (which, by the way, you really should add to your Christmas wish list!). She has a chapter about the pressures of life and how Satan can use our busyness to distract us from strategic and powerful prayer.
Priscilla says this: “Not every good thing is a God thing. Plain and simple. Because even good things can culminate in slavery.” p. 139
Sometimes we have to let go of striving after perfection (and striving to be like others!) and give ourselves permission not to do it all or keep up with everyone else.
2. Just do the work.
Sometimes we need to show ourselves grace, and then there are times we need to give ourselves a lecture on the value of hard work, then plop our behind in the chair, and work diligently with our whole heart and soul on the things that need to be a priority.
I often have to work at odd hours, late at night, or under less than ideal circumstances (picture me this month at the dining room table surrounded most of the time by my kiddos while I attempt to do major editing project).
I could whine and moan (and sometimes I do!), throw up my hands in defeat, and decide to put off my project until I have more time and energy and a quieter working environment. But most of the time, I simply dig in regardless of whether my circumstances are ideal. I try to be a good steward of my time (and attempt not to squander it).
Sometimes rather than giving up too soon, we need to give ourselves a pep talk and keep going until the job is done. Priscilla Shirer says this in Fervent: “If he’s [Satan] working that hard to keep me from moving forward, there must be some blessing or beauty from heaven he’s trying to divert me from.” p. 109
Praying this holiday season that we’ll extend grace to ourselves when we need it and persevere when God has something he wants us to accomplish.
How do you handle the pressure to keep up with all of the demands? Do you need to give yourself a break from the pressure to keep up? Or are you giving up too soon rather than persevering?
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