As a neuropsychologist, I have spent decades problem-solving with patients. But, I’ve realized something about my problem-solving and doing mode. It excludes God from the process and takes Him out of the picture. As I sought Him, I learned what is now my best tip for how to relieve stress at Christmas and on a daily basis throughout the year.
Do you ever find your day being hijacked by something other than what you had planned? How do you respond?
That morning I woke up in extreme pain. I was frustrated.
I felt frustrated because I had planned to spend the day doing some Christmas shopping, wrapping presents, and attending to some of the holiday tasks that we all feel the need to engage in during the Christmas season. Yet it seemed that pain and nausea hijacked my plans for the day.
Time in God’s presence relieves stress
As I stilled my heart during morning quiet time with the Lord, He spoke to me and said, “You know what you’re struggling with is not something you battle just during the Christmas season. You have a tendency to jump into problem-solving and doing mode.”
The more God got a hold of my heart and spoke to me, the more I realized that my stress-inducing problem-solving and doing mode excluded God from the process. It takes God out of the picture.
The longer I sat in my quiet time and reflected on it, I thought about how as a neuropsychologist, I have spent decades problem-solving with patients. So that tendency is very well ingrained in me. The enemy can use that for my disadvantage. While the Lord can use that for good in my life, the enemy always tries to twist everything and use it for bad.
We can get so focused on the tasks, and on the problems, and even on the pain that we lose sight of what God wants. Spending time in God’s presence relieves stress.
The Lord gently reminded me of the well-known story in Luke 10:41-42, “But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’”
Be in God’s presence and seek Him
As I considered the account of Martha’s struggle to keep her focus on what really mattered, one thing kept ringing true for me as I considered my recent health battle, the Christmas season, and trying to support my children through some of their challenges. The most important thing we can spend our time doing is not really doing at all but being in the Lord’s presence and seeking what He would have for us to do, to be, to say. When we do that, He’s going to show us the right priorities for the moment, for the day, for the week, because He knows best.
Prioritize spending time in God’s presence
I don’t know what you currently have on your plate. I don’t know if you’re up to your ears in wrapping paper and bows, or trying to keep the home plates spinning while caring for a loved one, or you are preparing for company coming into town, or some other pressing needs, but I would encourage you to let go and let God take control. Take the time to prioritize spending time in His presence. You’ll be surprised how the rest of your time goes so much more smoothly when you do.
A prayer that relieves stress at Christmas
May I pray for you?
Father, the Christmas season is a busy time for all of us. More to do, with no more time to do it. Father, will you help us to focus on what truly matters: spending time with you receiving our plans and priorities from you, and leaning in to you for strength for the tasks of the day. Father, let us not lose sight of the real reason we celebrate, but to focus our attention on the greatest gift that has ever and will ever be given: the gift of your son born on Christmas Day. Thank you Father for helping us to remember. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
3 Free Resources to Start Your Year Off Right
Out of my love and gratitude for you, I want to offer you three resources to look forward to in the new year.
The 7-Day Today is Going to be a Good Day Challenge
Many years ago I was physically and emotionally failing and needed a reason to get up and optimistically face the day. I wrote my very first social media “Today is Going to be a Good Day” post to encourage not only myself but others as well. That became what has now been a seven-year daily ministry on social media, and the premise for my latest book, Today is Going to be a Good Day: 90 Promises From God to Start Your Day Off Right . I learned how important our mindset is, so I’m offering a free 7-Day Today is Going to be a Good Day Challenge. We’ll send you a daily encouraging email, short encouraging video with tips for helping you to have a good day, the offer to participate in a Facebook group for accountability and support if you desire, as well as freebies and giveaways. I hope you’ll join us. Register here.
Free Webinar: Help for When You’re Feeling Blue
I know the winter months following the hustle and bustle of the holidays can contribute to a higher incidence of the blues. So I want to offer a free webinar for you or your friends and loved ones, to share professional and personal insights on some things that can help you mitigate the blues even when you can’t change the finances, the weather, or some of your contributing relationships. It’s free to you. It’ll be a live event with a replay available for those who sign up but can’t attend live. Sign up now.
First-ever Online Hope Prevails Bible Study
Readers have been asking me to lead an online version of the Hope Prevails Bible Study and God has spurred my heart to offer it in late January to help get through the winter months as we anticipate the joy of spring. I would love to have you join us, and perhaps even consider inviting a friend to join with you. Everything is better with a friend! I’ll be sharing more in future emails about the Bible study, but you can sign up here.
Friend, I pray that wherever you find yourself this holiday season, that you would experience that hope, peace, and joy that comes from having a relationship with Jesus!
Boy do I ever understand the draw to step in and take over with a three solution set and follow through, outline the steps, march in order, hut, hut, one two…. After years of direct sales, making the sales presentations, getting the order, and march, one, two, three, on to the next… Yet I had to learn to give it to Jesus daily, to pull over, catch a breath, and realize He is in control, not I, whew… you present this so well, good clarity of thought and word, yet… can you do it too?
That is the challenge, isn’t it Terry? I’m working on it.
Thank you, Dr. B. This speaks volumes to me. Praying for your peace and comfort today.
I’m so glad it met you where you are Carlie. Hoping it will encourage your heart and help you thrive during the Christmas season.
I’ve been trying more to “incline my ear” to the Lord and then wait long enough to hear what He has to say! Thanks, Michelle – praying for hope and healing. sue
Aaah, yes, it’s that waiting long enough to hear what He has to say that is crucial but can be a challenge for all of us. Blessings.
Breathing deeper now and feeling a little less stressed just reading your post, Michelle. 🙂 Thank you!
You’re welcome, Lisa. Wishing you a peaceful, hope-filled Christmas season!
I am guilty of that. I just spring into action as my first line of defense instead of springing into prayer. I saw the very familiar verse 1 Peter 5:6-11 in a whole new light this week. I was struck by the phrase, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God” reminding me that trials come through God’s loving hands and in these same verses He warns us to resist the devil firm in our faith. When I hop into action rather than prayer, I am allowing Satan to have a foothold rather than allowing God to do what He has promised when He says “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace…will Himself restore me.
In my morning devotion yesterday, I was reminded that God speaks to us through His precious Word. And so I am doing an Advent Bible Study which has been wonderfully edifying and is keeping me focused on the true meaning of Christmas.
Thank you so much for continuing to encourage the blogging community, even in the midst of your own difficult trial. May the Lord bless you.
Karen, I love it when God speaks to us and gives us tools that keep us focused on Jesus. Merry Christmas!
Thank you for this great reminder to focus on what and Who really matters this season! I’m struggling to do this but I’m working on it! Thank you for the nudge!!😉
This is such an important post this time of the year. I do think we can get focused on so many things (good and bad) that distract us from the true meaning. Thanks for linking up at #PorchStories.
Thank you, Kristin. Have a Merry Christmas!
Funny how we ADD ADD ADD ADD and ADD to our do list and then wonder why our Christmas season is full of stress! Thanks for these stress-relieving directives!
You’re welcome, Michele! Wish you a Merry Christmas and a New Year full of blessings from the Lord.
Congratulations on your book award, my friend! And thank you for reminding us to rest in Jesus and not succumb to stress during this joyous season.
Thank you so much, Anita! So thankful that when we are still and rest in His presence, He meets us right where we are!
Wonderful message! Our lives are a bit more settled than most folks because we are older and our children live away and do not always come during the holidays but we do exchange gifts and try to Skype but as I listened to your video and read your message it applies so beautifully to any season and especially this Christmas season. Be in God’s presence and let Him take control. Those are just so important for all of us so that we can keep our focus on the Lord and not become a doer only and not a worshiper and hearer of the Word. Focus on the reason for the season and let Him be in control. Thank you for sharing! I am praying for you as now you are also recovering again from surgery. Love and blessings! Merry Christmas dear Michelle!!
Best advice ever, Michelle. Praying for you, friend.
Isn’t it amazing how your Hope-Filled Perspectives are timeless? They fit in any season, any circumstance and forever because there will always be stress and we will always need to trust God and let Him handle our trials and tribulations. Thank you!! I was just confronted with a plumbing issue, a connection in the pipes under the sink came loose spilling water under the sink and the floor. Guess what, I began problem solving when what I need to do is wait and trust my hubby and God’s wisdom to take care of it They both have it all figured out. I love your HFP and look forward to them always. Praying for you continually as you walk your sacred journey still. Love you!