Christmas is the happiest time of the year. Song after song proclaims that and yes for many reasons it should be. However for many it can be anything but.
For those, myself included, who find themselves this year removed from celebrations on this edition of “Becoming Today”, we’ll discuss how to face the days when we are feeling anything but merry and bright.
In addition to just grinning and bearing it, as others put their perceptions of the holidays upon us, there is one really important step to take to outlast the feelings of anxiety, separation and loss we may be feeling. That is to always remain hopeful.
Becoming hope filled, is far more than wishing for or dreaming of other times, it is an all encompassing belief that better is yet to come.
Hope simply defined is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
To take that explanation and put it into action, hoping is wanting something to happen or be the case. Then doing what it takes to achieve it. Truly being hope filled involves not only maintaining a positive mental attitude but also having the fortitude to proactively seek and follow new paths to receiving the desired outcome.
I’m hesitant to say I am enduring this Christmas season or even to give voice to the fact that I’m trying to outlast it, however in reality I am. I am hopeful for the future and I understand and accept that the ‘reason for the season’ is seeing me through, yet I am human and have those ‘thorns in my flesh’ that the Apostle Paul wrote about more than a few years ago.
With this in mind, I’d like to share some questions that I’m also dealing with this season.
The first of these comes from psychological researchers. These are taught as the Three Good Things Exercise.
Write down three good things that have happened to or for you today.
Then for each of those three things ask the following questions:
- Why did this good thing happen?
- What does this mean to me?
- How can I have more of this good thing in the future?
Review your answers and in your acceptance of the fact that you were able to find these wonderful things and explore them, that whether or not they are big or small, you are already seeing things to continue being hopeful for.
Clinicians say these kinds of simple exercises do deliver lasting results. They consider it “learned hopefulness”.
Among the desired outcomes for adapting this skill are:
Seeing possibilities rather than limitations
Transforming negative beliefs into hopeful ones
Encouraging positive emotions
Exploring and increasing the use of strengths
Setting motivating goals
Finding purpose and meaning
Creating deep relationships built on giving and receiving
In accepting challenges as opportunities we are acting upon centuries old wisdom.
A few of these historical references include:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”. (Phillipians 4:6 ESV)
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ESV)
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”. (James 1:2-4 ESV)
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you”. (1 Peter 5:10 ESV)
And of course one that points to the true underlying reason for this season:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. (John 3:16 ESV)
As I look back, not dwelling, rather reviewing the many holiday seasons of my life there have not been many that would resemble a Hallmark movie. Yet I’m still here and I plan to be for a long, long time.
So I hope you can find some uplifting notes in today’s conversation. Take the steps, consider what you have to be grateful for and know that “… God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them”. (Romans 8:28 NLT)
Then please make another hopeful decision to join us again tomorrow for our next edition of “Becoming Today”.