“Happy Holidays!” The words roll off our lips, but we often don’t feel delighted in our hearts. Even in the middle of gatherings, goodies, and gifts, we feel overwhelmed, out of sorts, and overloaded instead of being able to enjoy the holidays. Can you relate?
Recently, I experienced a moment when outwardly I had everything I desired to enjoy the holidays, and yet I felt empty inside. Family filling my home and the holiday events that I’d carefully planned
came together perfectly, yet even as I smiled for family snapshots, my heart felt hollow and dry. I’d
imagined that having everyone together would fill my heart, but instead, I felt drained and empty. It
took me a few days to realize why. In my busyness to get everything done, I’d missed out on spending
time with God. Instead, I’d rushed into my days without pausing to come to my Lord for connection
Understanding what I needed, I woke up early the following day, and I spent time reading my
Bible and reflecting on God’s goodness. As I spent time reading about God’s love and promises in the
Bible, my soul soared. As I turned over my worries and activities to God, my burdens lifted.
I also took a moment to consider what I desired as I spent time with family and friends, and I
chose to do less. I only pulled out two boxes of Christmas decorations instead of six. And I put simple
outings like “Attend local tree lighting” on my calendar instead of planning the big out-of-town
weekend we’d considered. The shifting of my priorities did help me to slow down, but more critically,
my heart connection with Jesus changed me from the inside out. Outwardly the celebrations are still
going on, but inwardly I feel different. I felt like I could truly enjoy the holidays. I feel renewed.
As I share in my soon-to-be-released book, Heart Happy: Staying Centered in God’s Love
During Chaotic Circumstances, choosing to rest in God—even during overwhelming times—changes
everything. So if I’ve learned to cultivate a happy heart during storms and squalls, heartaches and
hardships, holiday busyness, disappointments, and celebrations, you can too.
Psalm 1:1–2 says, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the
way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night” (NIV). This happiness (often translated as “blessed”)
doesn’t entail just sitting around and hoping God will send a blessing down. Instead, it’s choosing to
take the proper steps toward God. It’s deciding to choose Jesus above everything else, even during the
busy holidays. Or, maybe, especially during the busy holidays.
Have you gotten to the place where you truly question if there will be any “happy” in your
holidays? Yet, deep down, do you long for a chance to indeed rest and enjoy the holidays this year?
It’s possible, and it starts with your heart. Here are five ways to do just that.
1. Fill your heart with the goodness of God.
Heart happiness is rooted in understanding God’s love and embracing it daily. What would it be like if you woke up tomorrow and spent five minutes opening God’s Word and seeking whatever good news and blessing God had for your heart? How would things change?
Taking time to center my heart on Jesus changes everything about my day, even busy holidays.
As I read God’s Word, I find happiness in my moments with Him. First, I pray and settle my heart on
Jesus. Next, I turn my thoughts to His big plans for me, my family, and the world, and then I look at my
to-do list in light of that. Only then can I bravely face the demands of my day.
We can share the truth of God’s Word with the lost, serve our families and community, help the
hurting, and act with love and charity this holiday season, but if we don’t do these things from the outpouring of happy hearts, we’ll feel purposeless and dry.
2. Pause and contemplate on the meaning of the celebration or tradition first.
The external should stem from the internal. Our outward actions should flow from the wellspring of happiness found from God’s love welling up within us.
Doing, caring, celebrating, and serving in any other way leaves us exhausted and won’t carry us far. Jesus died so He could live a new life within us. We forget this. We fail to access the life of faith we
can experience from God-in-us. As Psalm 62:1 says, “I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes
As you open gifts or drive around looking at Christmas lights, pause first and remember the
reason behind the tradition. Thank Jesus for the gift of God-with-us. Praise Him for being the light of
the world while you enjoy the holidays and every day.
3. Give yourself grace.
Tending our souls and focusing on being heart happy isn’t something we’ll figure out overnight. You might spend one day focusing on “the reason for the season” and then the
next day racing around and forgetting what’s truly important as you try to check off the items on your
In a world of quick fixes, tending our hearts and souls takes time. Change happens as we
attempt to make good decisions instead of getting swept away by our bad habits. But instead of being
discouraged, let’s consider this good news. We can lower our expectations concerning suddenly “being fixed” instead, we can make small shifts that tilt us in the right direction. One small change leads to
another small change, and then you can look back and smile at the positive shifts in the right direction.
4. See yourself as truly loved.
Jesus came to earth to give you a new life in Him and anoint you with His presence. To preach the Good News to your mind. To bind up your broken heart. To proclaim freedom from your captivity of rush-more, do-more, and all the other unrealistic ideals the world places on you. To release you from the prison of unworthiness that you find yourself in, to grasp the fact that you are worthy in Him.
Today there is no more extraordinary work than to turn our attention to Jesus’ face upon us and
to allow our hearts to feel His everlasting love. Pause and imagine His smile, and as you do, the dark
shadows of striving, busyness, and comparison will flee by the light of His face.
5. Understand being happy in the Lord is a good thing.
True happiness is an emotion derived from God. Therefore, when we seek heart happiness, we must seek God. As humans, we understand when our heart is not happy. When you get to the place where you trust Jesus to guide you one step at a time, you will experience a new freedom.
Every small decision to tend your soul and to turn your heart to God WILL bring change. It’s only through happy hearts and nourished souls that we live thriving lives. Anything less is just going through the motions, and I promise you that we can look forward to much more. We can call out “Happy Holidays” with our lips and feel happy in the Lord in our hearts this year. And that truly is a celebration.
Heart Happy: Staying Centered in God’s Love During Chaotic Circumstances takes readers on a journey to discover where their true strength, peace, and joy come from—the Lord—no matter what life offers up. Tricia Goyer—author, podcast host, volunteer, homeschooling mom of ten children, and caregiver to her grandma—understands what it’s like to be pulled in different directions with the longing and intention to do all things well. In the midst of chaotic circumstances (which all of us face), she’s found uncomplicated but effective practices for nourishing the soul—because everything stems from the heart.
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