By Lindsey Brady, Crosswalk.com
Christmas: that magical time of the year where everything slows down, the world overflows with peace, joy, and love, and we can all relate to the concept of a silent night.
Or at least that’s what I daydream about while I’m stuck in the grocery store’s baking aisle, unable to navigate my cart through the sea of people brawling over the last container of green and red sprinkles.
All too easily we get sucked into the Christmas chaos. We’re busy striving to create Instagram-worthy sweets, finding the perfect presents, and decorating our homes with Joanna Gaines expertise.
This season, let’s cast our pursuit of perfection to the side and get back to the heart of Christmas. To help inspire a Christ-centered holiday, here are ten ways to refocus on Jesus this Christmas season.
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1. Seek Out Quiet Moments
The holiday season seems to ramp up November 1st and not stop until mid-January. It’s just one thing after another, always go, go, go.
That’s why it’s so important to seek out the quiet moments when you can. Maybe it’s taking five minutes in the evening to light a candle and relax. It could be waking up before your kids and sipping coffee by the light of the Christmas tree. Or maybe it’s even turning down the radio in your car and just sitting in silence.
No matter what time you carve out, use that quietness to focus your mind and your heart on Jesus. Ask him to draw near to you and for his everlasting peace to wash over you. It’s incredible how one quiet moment creates the opportunity to be more present during the rest of the day.
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2. Make Time for Your Bible
If you’re new to the Bible-reading-practice, start with reading the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20) every day. It’ll only take you a few minutes, and it'll be a beautiful reminder of our Savior’s humble beginnings.
If you’re well versed in Bible reading, start doing some research on Scripture in the Old Testament that points to Jesus. You’d be amazed at all the ways you can find Jesus before he was even born! You'll build anticipation for the celebration of Christ’s birth.
And honestly, if neither of those options sounds appealing, you can read anything in your Bible and still connect to Jesus. By just making Him a priority, you’ll begin to draw in closer to him and feel his presence throughout the day.
Bonus: Read your Bible by the Christmas tree to feel extra festive!
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3. Ask for Jesus' Advice
Often, we underestimate how much Jesus cares about our day-to-day lives. We think we can only come before Him in prayer with the really big, earth-shattering things.
But that’s not true! The Bible even tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray continually.”
This Christmas season, let’s make our days a continual conversation with Jesus. Ask Jesus for advice when you’re stressed about what to cook for Christmas dinner. Ask Jesus to help you find the perfect gift for your spouse. Ask Jesus for peace when you’re up to your eyeballs in holiday stress. This allows you to remain focused on Jesus amidst the Christmas chaos.
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One of the absolute best ways to connect with Jesus is to serve others in your community. You could volunteer by collecting donations for a local outreach organization. Maybe you could distribute food at a food pantry. You could even volunteer at a nursing home, just spending time with the residents.
Another great way to connect to the heart of Jesus is through random acts of kindness. Pick up the dinner bill of a single mom at the table next to you. Anonymously leave a gift on the doorstep of the elderly couple down the street. Or maybe donate gloves to an elementary school for kids who don’t have cold weather clothes.
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Christmas can be stressful for a lot of reasons, with unending to-do lists, family dynamics, and bills piling up. One of the best ways to take back your peace and focus on Jesus is to spend time in prayer.
Now, I know this can seem awkward to talk with God if prayer isn’t currently a daily habit. Here’s a quick prayer exercise to help.
First, write down everything that is currently stressing you out. Remember: nothing is too small! Then imagine yourself handing each of those things over to Jesus, one at a time. When you’ve handed them over, you can’t get that worry back. Jesus is now carrying it.
Once you’ve given over all those stressors, take a deep breath and ask Jesus to remain in focus for the rest of the day.
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6. Spend Time with Your Loved Ones
We can learn a lot from the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10. In case you’re unfamiliar, the gist is that Martha is busy running around being the perfect hostess and slaving over a hot stove while Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, basking in his presence. Martha, like any of us, thought this was unfair and Jesus kindly reminds Martha that Mary is focusing on what matters—Him!
All this to say, let’s work on being like Mary—not Martha— this Christmas season. Let’s put aside our fancy dinners, our perfectly wrapped presents, and our meticulous homes to be intentional about spending time with those we care about most. In this way, we’ll be connecting with the heart of Jesus.
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7. Celebrate Advent
Do you usually celebrate Advent? And I mean genuinely celebrate it; you know, more than buying the 12 days of Star Wars socks from Target.
Honestly, this is something I’ve never done. I mean, my family had a Christmas countdown calendar with a daily dose of candy in it, but I’ve never intentionally built spiritual-anticipation for Christmas.
But here’s the trick: Advent isn’t in the Bible, so there’s no one Biblical way to celebrate it.
You can create an advent tree with ornaments tied to scriptures that build anticipation to Jesus’ arrival. You can make your own advent wreath with candles. Or you could even do something as simple as taking time as a family to pray for the families who sent you Christmas cards.
Whatever you choose to do, take time to slow down and focus on Jesus.
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8. Give Gifts with Purpose
While it’s entirely okay to buy your kid that unicorn ice cream maker, finding gifts with a purpose can help you focus on Jesus.
First, look for gifts that help others connect with Jesus. Try a new Bible for your nephew, a daily devotional for your wife, or a new journal for your mom.
Next, find presents that help others connect with the gifts that God has given them. Maybe this is a new art set for your daughter, new woodworking tools for your husband, or a stand mixer for your sister.
Lastly, buy gifts that give back. Instead of buying multiple, cheaply made presents from big corporations, invest in gifts from locally owned stores to give back to your community. Or think globally and purchase gifts from craftsmen and craftswomen in developing countries. Yes, these items will probably be more expensive, but they’ll also give back.
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9. Say No
Yes, I’ll go to two work parties, three family gathering, and seven friend gathering in the week leading up to Christmas. Sure, I’ll bring six different side dishes, 12 plates of cookies, and a turkey to those parties. Oh, and it seems like a great time to overcommit to volunteering to run the school Christmas program, lead the town carolers and oversee the church’s live nativity scene.
And yet somehow, I’m left scratching my head about how another Christmas has come and gone in the blink of an eye.
To refocus on Jesus this year, I’m allowing myself to say no to create space for Jesus. I’ll prayerfully consider how I’m spending my time and permit myself to control my calendar guilt-free.
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10. Embrace Imperfection
One of the most significant roadblocks to focusing on Jesus, no matter the time of year, is the idea of perfection. We strive and strive and strive for something that’s impossible! Let’s face it: we will never be perfect, and we will never have the perfect Christmas.
And that’s okay!
In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s wonderfully beautiful! When we admit that we are flawed, that we don’t have it all together, and maybe that our roasted lamb is just a little bit too roasted, we allowed Jesus into our lives. We give him room to work because we don’t have it all under control.
So this Christmas let’s leave perfection on the curb and invite Jesus to make up the difference.
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Lindsey Brady is a brand-new wife and stepmother who loves to spend time in nature or going for long runs. When she's feeling a bit more sedentary, she'll watch an entire season of any Food Network show in a single sitting. You can follow her on Instagram at real.slim.brady.