What do you do when it’s the busy holiday season, you’re struggling to check all the tasks off of your “to-do” list, and you’re heart just isn’t in it? Are you trying to put holiday smiles on the faces of those around you, but you don’t feel like smiling yourself?
This can be the situation for lots of different reasons, but it’s all too common for people who feel like their family is suffering. Pulling out the ornaments and having memories come flooding back can also bring a flood of tears thinking about happier times. When things like this happen, don’t beat yourself up, realize there is a way to bounce back.
It may be easier for some than others, but there is one way to reclaim a little of the joy of the season if you’re going through a hard time right now. Purposely focus on HOPE.
Merriam Webster defines hope in six different ways. Two that are especially appropriate during this busy holiday time are “to expect with confidence” and “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.”
In the time of Jesus, his message brought hope for a better life during a time of incredible suffering for the Jews. The Jewish people in Jesus’ time were HOPING for a savior from the harsh rule of the Roman Empire. They were EXPECTING a savior because of their faith in the scriptures. After Jesus died and was believed resurrected from the dead, his followers had renewed hope that despite all of their suffering here on earth, there would be a reward in the afterlife. In 2018, this hope for the afterlife still gives many of us the strength to weather all sorts of hardships suffered in the present.
The idea of “HOPE,” however, applies to everyone, not just those who celebrate Christmas or believe in an afterlife. Especially at this time of year, when we are bombarded with images of happy families everywhere, those going through hard times need to “expect with confidence,” that they and their families are going to find peace in the year ahead. If you are facing the end of something that you held dear, have an unwavering “expectation of or belief in fulfillment” of your dreams for a new future. Don’t let worry or doubt cloud your vision of yourself happy and whole. You might not see how it’s going to happen, but if you hold on to the hope, if you constantly “expect with confidence” that you are going to be better than you were before, you will find that you are actually better in the present. The funny thing about hope-- holding on to it, BELIEVING that your desires for your future will be fulfilled, ends the worry you’re feeling RIGHT NOW. Hope for something better in the future actually brings you peace in the present moment.
So in this holiday season, when the stress, sadness, and anxiety creep in, force yourself to breathe for a second, and purposely focus on your hopes for your future. Allow your desires to be “accompanied by expectation of belief in fulfillment.” It will find the peace of Christmas and have a joyful New Year.