It is a universal complaint, at least in our opulent, obese, western culture. “I was doing pretty well on my diet and then the holidays hit.” Or, “I lost 12 pounds this year and gained them all back between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.”
A similar, though reverse-image difficulty is often found in our spiritual walk during this time of the year. The packed schedules, the change of pace, the frantic focus on the family gift list, takes us away from our hard fought devotional time and our disciplines fall by the wayside. “I was having my quiet time every day until the kids got out of school.” “I was in pretty good shape on my Bible reading until the late night Christmas parties started.” We lose our traction so easily and especially when the schedule is thrown into a tizzy.
So here are a few ideas to maintain the spiritual side of things during the holidays:
- Eat a lot of smaller meals. It works with food, it will work here too. Maybe you can’t find that 45 minute block of time you had before to read, pray, and journal. The kids are home from school. There is another concert to attend. The gift list is only half done. Take advantage of the few minutes here and there you get to pray quick prayers, read short devotionals, quote a familiar verse to yourself. Jesus Calling is a fantastic and very SHORT devotional book that takes only a couple of minutes to read each day.
- Lay off the junk food. In the summer when I’m running and active I might be able to justify a cupcake here and there (or 3 or 4) but during the winter I have to work a little harder at avoiding the sweets. In the same way, when my spiritual schedule is good I can watch an extra episode of NCIS or play a few games of Solitaire on the computer. During this season I work a little harder at using what time I have to get in touch with the Father. My quiet time moments are too precious to waste.
- Get plenty of exercise. Most of the time our dieting is really only as effective as our exercise regimen anyway. The same is true here. If I’m struggling to keep my prayer life current and my Bible reading up to date I have found that getting out of myself and helping others makes all the difference. This is the season for that anyway so look for new and fresh ways to be Jesus to others. You may find that the spiritual diet takes care of itself when you do that.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Last thing, when my diet goes to pot and I look in the mirror and get all depressed about the shape I’m in, I usually go to the fridge and get a bowl of ice cream to console myself. Beating myself up only spirals me downward. I just start over again and try to do better tomorrow. (Or in January.) Same here. God’s grace and His love for me is not based the number of chapters I read or the amount of time I spend in prayer. Letting myself have it over my failures only makes me feel more distant from Him. So….I accept His forgiveness, I acknowledge His love, and I do better tomorrow. I am hungry to be closer to Him.
And speaking of hungry, there are some Christmas sugar cookies with my name on them……
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