By Kyle Cunningham, Lead Minister, Bridgeway Church
The weather is cool, the leaves are beginning to fall, and the Pumpkin Spice lattes will soon be here. Fall is in the air! In addition to the nostalgia and traditions that we all long for, this time of year brings another unwelcome reality—busyness. I’ll bet you can already see your calendar filling up with events and holiday travel plans.
The American Psychological Association found that 38% of people say their stress increases during the holidays — only 8% of people say they feel happier. For all the promise of “the most wonderful time of the year,” it fails to deliver for many of us. A likely culprit for this anxiety is busyness. We want to accept every invitation. We acquiesce to the demands of family. We feel pressure to create our own traditions.
So, if busyness is the problem, what is the solution? We need to practice presence. This means being intentional with margin in your life. Of course, this presupposes that there is margin! The first part of practicing presence is all about using the dreaded two letter word—“no.” It means cancelling plans and declining invitations. For many of us this is a scary proposition, but it is necessary.
However, practicing presence is more than clearing your calendar. It also means saying “yes” to what really matters. Practicing presence is the discipline of giving yourself fully to someone. During the holidays, consider practicing presence with your family, God, and yourself. Spend time with your family and turn off screens (unless it’s to watch “White Christmas”). Give yourself more time with God by reading Scripture and worshipping regularly.
Finally, be present with yourself. Too many of us neglect our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Take some time to be quiet and alone. You might find that presence is the best present you will give this holiday season.
The Pastor’s Place features columns written by a different area church leader each month. Call 940-728-8284 for more information.