Be good to yourself: gentle, patient, and kind.
This may seem obvious—but so many of us are like Alice in Wonderland: we give ourselves very good advice, but we very seldom take it! As the season of holidays and holy days ramps us, it is important to take time to remember who we are and whose we are. You are more than a wife, more than a mother, more than your work, more than a friend, more than a church member, more than a citizen—you are the beloved child of God.
Be as thoughtful and thought-filled with yourself as you would be with a family member, friend, or colleague.
Choose to focus on what is most important this season—and be content to let some habits, traditions, or obligations fall away if they are not essential.
Do you really need to make eight dozen cookies for the company Christmas party—or would store-bought treats and a sincere “Thanks for a job well done!” convey your respect just as well?
Photo by Flickr (Celine Aussourd)
Individual letters in every Christmas card are wonderful—if they do not take time away from family and rest. Consider sending up a quick prayer over each card you send and simply signing it with “I prayed for you” to convey your love.
Perhaps this may be the year to start a new tradition.
Rather than exchanging gifts, spend time with family, friends, and co-workers blessing others. Packing lunches for the homeless, washing dishes at a soup kitchen, or repairing bikes for needy children is a testimony and witness to what is most important in our lives. Think of service to others as throwing a birthday party for Jesus. When we serve others in Jesus’ name, we have actually given a birthday party for him. This kind of seasonal busyness does not drain but rather renews our spirits.
Another new tradition worth exploring is self-care.
- What brings you joy?
- What is guaranteed to put a smile on your face?
Whether it is hiking, reading novels, dancing, painting, or (fill in your favorite hobby)—just make sure to do it. Write it in your schedule and stick to it. You would encourage your best friend to take care of herself by engaging in activities that refreshed her. Be your own best friend this season.
Expressing our love and appreciation, giving our time and energy to those in need, and rejuvenating the self are all important—but spending time with God is the most important.
Although you will be going against the hurried tempo of the season, choose to love God.
Throughout every day, take a brief moment to stop, take a breath, and become aware of God’s presence with you—even in the midst of meetings, phone calls, and presentations.
Begin or end the day with the words of Scripture.
This would be a wonderful time to memorize the “non-conventional Christmas story” found in John 1:1–5. Let the words become your help and hope throughout the coming days.
Find places for “flash” prayer—every event or encounter during the day can become a moment of thanksgiving or intercession. Make corporate worship and small group meetings a priority. Although they may feel like “just one more thing on the do-to list,” making them a priority will give you the spiritual vitality to not just survive but thrive during the holidays and holy days. These moments of respite with God will refresh you more than anything else.
Take care of yourself. You have nothing to prove to God: the Lord loves you just as you are.
- Let some things go.
- Take some things on.
- Take time for yourself.
- Be blessed as you have blessed others.
Have a peace-filled Thanksgiving and grace-filled Christmas.
About Carol Pazdersky
Carol Pazdersky is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. She serves Bel Air UMC in Bel Air, MD, as the Pastor for Congregational Care and Missions/Outreach and on the Boards of Faith Communities and Civic Agencies United and Be the Change Baltimore addressing issues of homelessness. On a daily basis, Carol ministers with women who are seeking to balance their personal, professional, and spiritual lives. She is a wife, mother of three young adults, daughter of aging parents, friend, and animal lover and on the same journey to find balance. Her sermons are archived on the following sites: www.MtCarmelChapel.org and www.BAUMC.com.
I’m Carol Pazdersky, a pastor at Bel Air United Methodist Church in Bel Air, MD (Jory’s church). Spiritual formation is my passion! I have seen so many women facing burn-out because of the heavy load they carry—being a supportive partner, involved parent, care-giving daughter, strong business leader, and dedicated friend. With all that is happening, the spiritual life can take a back-seat—and without the firm foundation of Jesus, we may feel like a dry well. What are your greatest spiritual needs? How can I offer support and encouragement for your journey? On the other hand, some women have figured out the balance between faith, family, friendship, and business. I would love to have you share your wisdom as well. Email me at pazderskyc@ baumc.com with your victories, challenges, questions, and thoughts, and I will respond to them in the coming months. I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with you.