Hope During the Holidays

By Sutton West

Author of this post - Hope During the Holidays

UGA | Class of 2024 | Biomedical Engineering

Hope During the Holidays

This Holiday Season

It is fair to say that this holiday season will not look like what we are normally used to during this time of year. Normally the holiday season is fully of togetherness, large gatherings, seeing loved ones and all being huddled together in the warmth of hugs and the Christmas spirit. Songs such as “Please Come Home for Christmas” by Sharon Jones and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Frank Sinatra are constant reminders of how Christmas normally means the reunion of loved ones. Through the unprecedented times, we can focus on the Lord and find creative ways to spread not only Christmas spirit, but also Jesus’s light.

Set Our Hearts on Jesus

Christmas season is full of elements that bring immense joy; the lights, the gifts, the music, the holiday movies, and the decorations. However, it’s important to reflect on the joy that the time brings and process what the joy truly means. A beautiful acronym for joy is Jesus, Others, Yourself, meaning that joy comes from placing Jesus first, Others second and then Yourself.

Jesus is a vital part to Christmas, a part that we will never lose no matter the state of the world. The season is full of gift giving, and the most loving, thought out, continuous, merciful and sacrificing gift of all was Jesus himself. Think about a time when you have been given a gift that has blown you away. You get speechless and wonder if you can even accept it, and the giver has to reassure you that you are deserving and that they want you to have it. You hold that gift tight to your chest, you take care of it, you cherish it, and it makes your holiday season even more special. That level of excitement and wonder is how we should feel every year as we remember the greatest gift ever given. Our astounding God sent His only son down to earth to die for our sins, so that we may be with Him forever in Heaven. A baby, born in a manger to a young girl and her new husband, would become the savior of the world and all humanity. It is truly a mind-boggling gift, one that we can reflect and focus on.

The second letter to the JOY acronym is others. Focusing on “Others” certainly looks different this season but, as Simple Charity often demonstrates, there are numerous ways to spread love to others and to help the global poor. So many people around the world need help and assistance now more than ever, and we should answer the call to help them in the spirit of Christmas, but also in the spirit of Christ.

The last letter in the JOY acronym is yourself. While prioritizing Jesus and Others is the way to achieve true joy, it is important to not forget about yourself. Jesus calls us in Mark 12 to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”, but furthermore to He calls us to the second greatest commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30,31). Jesus loves and prioritizes us, and wants us to do the same. It is important to find time throughout this holiday to work on loving ourselves as well, so that we can love others more fully. Whether self love looks like prayer, curling up in front of the fire with a Christmas movie, calling a loved one to catch up or feasting on Christmas cookies, it is important to find time for that this holiday season.

How to Spread Love this Holiday

Simple Charity focuses heavily on service. In the spirit of the service mentality, there are many ways to spread love to others this holiday season. There also are many creative ways to do so. Here are some ideas:

- Write holiday letters to local hospitals or nursing homes

- Donate toys, both new and old, to local toy drives

- Call family members who you are not able to see this season

- Look online for local volunteer opportunities at food drives or homeless shelters

- Make Christmas Cookies and deliver them to your friend’s mailboxes

- Donate money to charities or struggling local businesses

- Pay forward for someone’s meal at a restaurant

Those are some examples, but there are numerous other ideas. Find things that are important to you and seek after those.

We may be feeling like Charlie Brown this Christmas, who says “Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to.” However, with the reminder of Jesus and the greatest gift ever received, we can feel more like Linus, who reminded us that “Peace, Goodwill toward men… That’s what Christmas is all about.”

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