Christmas, holidays, and family gatherings can be synonymous with two contrasting experiences: joy, excitement, fond memories... or chaos, stress, and tension! I have yet to meet a family who at some point during the holiday season does not experience the duality of these two worlds, sometimes within the same moment!
Peace can be hard to come by.
This is especially true for mothers with lots of little hearts and hands to mind. I can remember the trepidation of the first Christmas our twins were toddlers. How would we make it through Christmas dinner’s inflexible timing occurring in the middle of nap time... followed by an evening full of gift opening and sweets?! With the only grandchildren in our family, many of the adults were not accustomed to watching out for hands and a hot oven, or worrying about leaving scissors out, setting glasses on the coffee table, or the looming and very attractive grand staircase at my in-laws'. I was looking forward to the family time and not being responsible for a meal, but dreading the actual activities surrounding Christmas Eve.
Dread is another word for fear and yep, I was there.
We made it through the visit, and I left feeling exhausted and a bit deflated. The wheels had only fallen off twice (once per child) which, considering all the things, that was a Christmas miracle in my mind! Something was missing and it wasn’t for lack of gifts, or food, or laughter. I was missing Peace. You see, the best part of Christmas has always been the “why” for me. The Prince of Peace is why. The generosity is why. The Hope is why. I had forgotten that in the busyness, in the negotiations over the timing of dinner, worrying over the details big and little, and I had let fear creep in.
All year we have been talking about living a fearless lifestyle and thinking back on Christmas with multiples brought up this memory. I missed true peace that year and I do not want a repeat! I don’t want any other momma to miss it either. Peace is a powerful force, and I’m going to give you three tips to help you stay on course this year as the festivities commence!
Know what true peace looks like.
Excuse me as I geek out a bit, but the Hebrew word for peace is Shalom. In the Hebrew language each letter is a word picture. When you build words from these letters, a picture is developed of a larger definition than what we have in the English language. Shalom is such a cool word. It means to be safe, sound, healthy, perfect, complete, well-being and harmony, prosperity, rest, the absence of agitation or discord, state of calm without anxiety or stress. That sounds just lovely and like what we all desire! I could go on about its vast and strong definition, but I want to bring out one picture written in the word Shalom: “to destroy the authority attached to chaos.” Or it could be said, “the destruction of the world’s chaos by infusing the presence of God.” For moms, including myself, this definition cuts to the core. True peace is this, the defeat of stress and chaos caused by the world around us. Based on this, chaos and stress of all the holiday happenings has no right to steal our peace. Knowing what peace truly looks like helps me maintain inner and complete harmony, regardless of the situation or people or outside forces around me. It can help you too! When things don’t go as planned, hold on to that inner peace that destroys the turmoil inside of you, for that is where the battle is won!
Peace is a place, stay there!
I think of peace as an address that I can put in my GPS and get there. It’s a location in my heart and head that I choose as my destination. Even if in the world around me traffic is heavy, the visibility is low, delays ahead are causing us to be late, the GPS will continue to “reroute” me towards my inner destination. The key is choosing to follow the direction and not get off course. At times it can be hard to trust that direction when my first instinct may be to snap back at a snarky comment. But then the GPS says: “turn right and shut your mouth”. Remaining on course in that place of peace is the way we beat the chaos and worry. As we follow those inner directions, know the destination is well worth it! Peace is a position of our heart, not our outward situation.
Intentionally promote peace.
Families can be difficult, kids act up, schedules get off, food gets burned, items get forgotten, that one uncle brings up politics at the wrong time. We all will likely be in situations that have a great opportunity to ruin our celebrations. Choose ahead of time to not be the cause of it. The way I contribute to peace is to speak the truth in love, cover others’ missteps with compassion, and take the initiative to smooth over hurt feelings of others. That Christmas dinner mentioned above, I failed at it. I knew a 2pm meal was going to be terrible for my twins and meant no nap and disastrous attitudes to follow. Admittedly, I did not communicate that well in love, nor did I care much about the feelings of anyone other than my children and myself. I sucked the peace right out of the room with my selfish comments. I learned this one the hard way, and it caused ME to let go of my peace. Even though I wanted to blame others, I was the only one responsible for my inner peace. Moving forward into every future family event, I plan to lovingly advocate for my children’s needs while considering others. Be willing to be flexible and talk through solutions that work for the entire group. Make room for others, be generous with your responses, don’t take ridiculous comments so seriously that you leave that place of peace in your heart to get offended. I promise, intentionality will open the door for others to accommodate you and yours. And if not, don’t let go of your peace.
We have been given a gift of peace, of Shalom. Choose to let it in, to live in that place of inner peace, to seek out the opportunity to promote peace in all your holiday celebrations. There’s so much to love about this time of year, and it’s an incredible opportunity to learn how to live in a place of peace amid the hustle and bustle. One last parting thought as you take off to do all the things on your list. Remember those little hearts that watch you closely. They will learn to hold onto peace no matter what the world brings into their life as they watch you live a fearless and peaceful lifestyle in front of them.
Merry Christmas FWMOM, I pray that the Prince of Peace surrounds your heart and mind this holiday season! SHALOM!
John 14:27 “I leave the gift of peace with you- My peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but My perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts- instead, be courageous!”
Tonya Flowers is mother to 4 year old twins Wyatt and Timothy and older brother Lucas. She serves FWMOM as our Chaplain.