Three Essentials That Will Revolutionize Your Holiday Season

Years ago, shortly after Thanksgiving, I learned my son had been horribly assaulted. Suddenly, all thoughts of a joyful holiday vanished. The last thing on my mind was giving thanks.

Family Eating Dinner
(Image from Pixabay)

Though the trees displayed the colors of autumn, my heart was the shade of deepest sorrow.

I remember two specific things about the holidays that year:

  1. It was the first holiday season my husband and I had shared as a married couple. With our new blended family of five kids, I wanted to make it super special . . . until I found out about my son’s assault. What timing!
  2. The deluge of police reports, doctor’s exams, new diagnoses of PTSD, moderate traumatic brain injury, tics, flashbacks, and nightmares smothered my ability to do more than show up and breathe.

My most beloved holiday season became scarred by an irreversible, deep wound that affected my whole family.

How Do We Move Forward?

How do we move forward when life hurts? That’s a question we all ask when life forces us to find a “new normal.” Some of us want to wait out the hard times because we’d like to believe that time heals all wounds.

Unfortunately, that’s a huge lie. Another way we try to move forward is by glossing over the pain with a thick coat of denial. We varnish over our pain by presenting behavior that appears happy and well-adjusted. Sometimes that looks like . . .

  • Adorning our houses with the biggest and brightest decorations
  • Pinning photos on Pinterest boards of our extravagant meals
  • Mailing embellished family Christmas letters outlining our award-worthy accomplishments
  • Dressing like models on magazine covers for church services or holiday celebrations

Let me say, in and of themselves, there is nothing wrong with beautiful decorations, delicious meals, family letters, and fabulous clothing—especially if it includes a fantastic pair of heels.

However, there is everything wrong with believing external things can fill our empty hearts and hurting souls. Using stuff to hide our wounds is like rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship: it isn’t worth the effort and never ends well.

So what do we do when the unexpected alters our lives? How do we move forward with hope? Here are three vital steps:

  1. Engage your head: Paul writes in Romans 12:2 (NLT):

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

When creating a “new normal,” we must rest on the truths of Scripture. In this passage, Paul calls us to establish our will, affections, understanding, and devotion under the lordship of God.

We are to cultivate an attachment to Christ our Savior and not this world. Jesus calls us to trust that God is good, and what He allows has a greater purpose we may not see now.

It is also a call to surrender our wills, wishes, and ways and place them under the authority of our sovereign Lord. Trusting in His perfect character enables us to move forward on paths that we have not yet walked.

  1. Engaging our hearts: Proverbs 4:23 (NASB) says:

Watch over your heart with all diligence,

For from it flow the springs of life.

Every heartbeat affects the entire body. Physically, a compromised heart leads to countless complications and possibly death. Spiritually, the heart represents the seat of our values, affections, and desires.

Praying

(Image from Unsplash)

We are called to observe our emotions and actions, to nourish our souls with truth, to exercise discipline with our words and actions, and to be consistently aware of our heart’s condition.

We cannot move forward in spiritual strength if our hearts are compromised. Placing our trust in Christ, accepting what He allows, believing God has a purpose for all things are foundational in establishing a new normal.

  1. Engaging our habits: Examine behaviors, beliefs, attitudes, and actions. John 15:1–4 (NIV) says:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

Clearly, when establishing a “new normal” we need unshakable strength. Supernatural strength comes only through our being rooted and connected to the strength-giver, Christ Jesus.

If you have ever had a garden, you know pruning—cutting back—is required every year. While pruning strips away much of the plant, it forces the roots to go deeper into richer soil.

As spring approaches, the plant is more firmly established and produces more beautiful fruit. Yes, it is painful to be pruned; it is also essential. To survive, we must be attached and nourished on God’s Word which then changes the way we live each day.

Healing from that one Thanksgiving season years ago has taken time. There is no shortcut. If you want to experience a difference this holiday season, begin by engaging your head, heart, and habits.

Let Me Hear from You

Ask these simple questions:

  • Am I allowing Jesus to renew my mind through this?
  • Am I guarding my heart daily?
  • How do my actions and attitudes reveal that I’m committed and connected to Christ as my Lord?

Let’s connect on this as we enter the holiday season together.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

  • VickiHD

    Colleen,
    Thank you for your post today. Your insight, wisdom and your timing is perfect. My Mom just passed away. Being such a small but close family we are trying to adjust to the “new normal”. We have comfort from leaning on God and know he is walking with us during this time but also having the comfort of knowing that my Mom’s faith was strong and true.
    Your post today will help remind us of how we need to keep and stay on track to adjust and get use to the “new normal”.
    Wishing you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving.
    Blessings, Vicki

    • Vicki,
      Oh my goodness….I’m so sorry! What timing…while we know she is in the glorious delights of heaven, our hearts are here and feel the loss so significantly. I’m glad she passed to you a legacy of true, deep faith…and I hurt for you during this time. Thank you for letting me know.
      “Lord, I pray for your peace right now, for my dear friend who is in sorrow and pain. We know our lives on earth are so short, yet when we lose a loved one it can feel like forever. Please give this precious family comfort in the days ahead. While celebrating your birth, they will also be grieving the loss of a loving mother. Lord, you of all are familiar with grief, acquainted with every sorrow we feel. Please send your loving angels to surround their family and to offer them hope as they move forward. We thank you for your grace and mercy, so needed in this season. In Jesus Name, Amen.”
      My heart is with you, Vicki, and I will continue to pray for healing. Thank you for connecting! Colleen

      • VickiHD

        Thank you Colleen for your prayers. 🙂

  • Leesa

    Hello Colleen.
    I am so sorry to know you have had to endure this as a family . I am truly sorry for Jon having to know at all this abuse and to endure what that means as a whole for living life has changed forever and how we relate and trust again . The process to move forward is beyond any description , it is a known truth what that means . How is it with your soul calls out in my mind.
    It will maybe seem odd but I am heartfelt that you are placed by God in the position and higher divine purpose through insight for living and your being able blog and create a safe place to express and touch so many other lives by Jon and your experience as a family .
    The support is something that is so valuable and that Jon has had such love from his family is truly much of what I find peace in for Jon and you and your family
    The scripture that you have shared is just for me a reminder of where we need go when it seems so distracting and painful.
    In my journey I have been making friends and resting all my trust in the Lord. It was up until thanksgiving that there were those snags that I working on in trauma program. Yet they are deep snags. One was something I was disappointed with someone I seek and mutually had requested prayers for certain things. This time the couple took upon themselves to approach someone without my permission and it was in regard to during a very special loving program the individual made sexist comment to me and another inappropriate comment to a gal I am friends . When the couple took upon themselves to speak with this individual the husband came to me belittling my experience stating all was good as per their interaction and it was miscongrued. It has been an issue internally for me and all I can do is pray. The other gal , my friend has had same experiences and we had been praying and I simply asked another couple pray for our discernment what “God would want me to do and this other gal prayed same for wisdom and understanding and discernment .
    Then after this on thanksgiving I decided to not go along with a church member invitation but to stay and rest as I have needed for months so I took this opportunity. I also have been getting some things organized for my bathroom is finally being torn out beginning Monday
    I really enjoying the rest , a little emotional here and there. I recall being so grateful for our connection and all your loving support over the year and some four years back already
    Then I face timed with my mom as we have been doing and I believed I could open up more over the previous month as I began feeling safe . I could not have been more wrong. At end of conversation she began her old pattern of emotionally abusing me by wickedness of her tongue in that sounds simple but it is the tone and hatred toward me that I cannot release from my thoughts. It hurts so deeply. I had to call the hotline if program yesterday to help me just talk it out and I was told I am doing really well at this point in program with taking care of myself. When my mom began mocking what I eat as if funny to her I called her back and asked why is it that you always make fun of what I eat ? She became hostile and said for me to not always look deeper into what is said. She claimed she a jokster and that it was just conversation back and forth. I asked why do you make fun of what I eat and my sister diet you support and make food for her from what she eats. She said in an awful tone I eat like a rabbit and it all this greens. It is just different. Now this was in a very wicked tone. It all sounds so simple but I grew up with this and this is a major trigger for me. I am doing really well and my gut is so tight and hurts. I have been praying and for me release anger or resentment. Just the past few weeks this is area trauma program opened up as my mother may have treated me with such dislike because she knew what was happening I want to do what I need to to be all loving yet right now I may say I will not be speaking on next holiday but before because I will not be available. And I certainly keep praying for I am not feeling well about this popping up part of her personality and character that I do my best continue be in relationship yet if I feel I cannot be trusted And safe consistently . My pastor not specific to this relationship but in general he teaches that it not about the people. It is about for example me and God and keep as you say pointing to the Lord. Not at each other. I just hate this feeling within me what has stimulated negativity and blocking me from full Holy Spirit within me
    This is where I am at. I love the Lord and I need Hom really badly penetrate me with his love so I can zap out this and continue moving forward. In the trauma program I am just going to begin next week replacing triggers with a type of visualization and I am told that will replace triggers , eventually will even change the remaining snags beyond this work currently.
    I hope this is not too heavy. As I truly wanted to wish you well and a thanksgiving that was filled with gratitude and fulfillment with you and your family. And to let you know I was thinking of you and wanting you to be aware how grateful I am for you and your friendship and genuine consistent loving caring support over the year and years now
    Take care Colleen. I know I bounce back as I always do. Thank you for this scripture and your quote shared after this post that I had read and know these are what I needed to hear today. God is good and yes has a purpose. Maybe fit me it was to have the courage to question my mom in that moment and for God to bring her to self reflect ?for how what she says impacts others
    With loving care
    Leesa