Rhythms Amidst the Reindeer

Posted by Naomi Vacaro on

Christmas time Rest and Rejuvenation
Arianna Li

The countdown until Christmas is on! A pile of unwrapped presents is taunting you, you just got signed up for another “Secret Santa”, and the relatives planning on staying in your guest bedroom have just flown in. Sound familiar?
Last year, I joked with my friends that I took on a second full-time job as Santa during the month of December. It seems that expectations are at an all-time high during Christmas, both from others and self-imposed. The specialness of the Christmas season is what can make it so beautiful and significant, but also what can cause an equal amount of overwhelm. We’re baking, shopping, and spending family time, all while trying to keep up our regular rhythms. How then, in a season that seems saturated with an “all-hands-on-deck” mindset, can we pursue rest and rejuvenation? 

Jesus, worn out from his journey, sat down at the well. (John 4:6 CSB) 
The first step is allowing yourself to acknowledge your tiredness. Jesus set a wonderful example of prioritizing rest throughout His entire life on Earth. I love this verse in John because it simply and overtly highlights an important “call and response” example that we can follow. Jesus was worn out, so he responded by taking a break. Simple as that.
Throughout this Christmas season, set a time aside for “check-ins” with yourself and with the Lord. It can be as simple as turning down the radio on your trip to Target to pray and reflect on how you feel. If you have a trusted friend or spouse who knows you well, try partnering up with them to ask “check-in” questions throughout the holidays. It’s amazing the power that acknowledging the state of our hearts can have, rather than barely making it through each day with the desire to “just push through”.
God delights in being invited into the honest state of your heart. In conversation with Jesus, you don’t have to lie, put on a brave face, or “play it cool”. Jesus knows your thoughts and He knows your heart. There is a beautiful rest to be found simply in the act of entering into an honest conversation with your Creator.
Once you have taken a personal heart inventory, it’s time to start carving (turkey/ham pun totally intended) out some space to rest and rejuvenate. While it may seem like someone is needing something from you at every moment, I assure you that an investment into your own spiritual well-being will have an immense return in everything else that you do. Here are a few strategies to pursue rest and rejuvenation amidst the reindeer this season: 

  • Create some space: Jesus was often seen taking space away from his closest friends (the disciples) and his family even to spend time with God. This can look different for each of us. If you’re a morning person, push yourself to set the alarm just a bit earlier for the week of Christmas. If not, it could be an afternoon walk, a drive by yourself around the neighborhood, or even staying up a bit later than your family with some hot cocoa by the tree and enjoying its beauty with the Lord.
    Jesus set the beautiful example of distancing himself from noise, distraction, and even good things (like His community) for a time to specifically find rest in the Lord. It’s also ok to not say yes to every invite and every commitment. Sometimes, to achieve rest during the season of Christmas, we have to specifically set aside time to get the rest that only time with the Lord can bring. 
  • Not all rest is created equal: I’m preaching to myself when I say that we have to be selective in how we “rest”. Not all forms of “rest” are equally rejuvenating to our souls. Firstly, there is true and deep soul-level rest. This looks like spending time with the Lord, having quality conversations with friends and family who fill you up or spending time in nature. The other type of “pseudo-rest” is truly better described as “crashing” or “vegging” out. This is more to the tune of spending 3+ hours scrolling on the internet or camping out in front of the TV for an entire day.
    Hear me in this - I think there is a time and place for social media and for TV. I even think that some days it is fun and memorable to have movie marathons and there are moments when we truly just want to catch up on our favorite vlogger’s content. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with those things. It’s when we turn to those less “soul-nutrient-dense” sources for true rest and rejuvenation that we encounter the problem.
    When contemplating how to use the time and space you have set aside for rest and rejuvenation this holiday season, I would challenge you to think about what practices can truly nourish your soul. I often think of it in terms of food. As an avid lover of dairy-free ice cream, I will be the first to say that it is a necessary and often daily part of my diet. But, it’s not the food item that I would go to after a tough workout to replenish my body. In the same way, for soul-level rejuvenation, seek out soul-level rest. 
  • Remember the reason for the season: I vividly recall the week of December 20th of last year. It was the week of my office Christmas party and also so happened to be the first week that I was settling into a new apartment. I approached my co-worker in a panic and said, “I completely forgot to get the staff gifts, I feel so bad!” To which she replied, “You don’t have to do everything, every Christmas.” In this season of excitement and expectation, remember that at the heart of it, Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ. No decoration, perfect present, or well-coordinated outfit (while they can be extremely wonderful) can come close to the importance of celebrating our savior. In the midst of feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to ground yourself by remembering the true reason for our celebrations. 
  • Through reliance on Jesus, we can delight in the wonders of Christmas time from a place of rest and rejuvenation rather than from a place of stress and expectation. Lean on the Lord - He is there for you in this season and always.

      Arianna Li lives with her husband in Nashville, TN. She currently works as a teacher in a homeschool co-op, has a strong passion for community building, and is regularly involved in her church. Arianna can also be found hosting friends for dinner, baking for loved ones, and going on neighborhood walks.
    Advent Christmas Rest

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