finding freedom from stress and guilt at christmas

Finding freedom from stress and guilt this Christmas

I just love Christmas, but lately I’ve been reflecting on how easily I can fall into the ditches of stress or guilt in this season. 

I’m one of those people who starts playing Christmas music in October, writing a detailed gift list, and planning out new and exciting ways we can teach our children about the birth of Jesus. 

But I have to be honest, even with all the excitement and joy that I feel about Christmas, sometimes I get overwhelmed when I see all the ideas out there – all the things I could be doing, but realistically can’t. And so I can flip-flop between stress and guilt – feeling stressed about trying to do all the things, and feeling guilt about not being able to.

The truth is many of the things on our lists at Christmas are good things – it’s good to put up lights, and buy thoughtful gifts, and make delicious food, and spend time with our loved ones, and go through an advent calendar with Bible readings, and decorate the house in a festive manner…

But it’s easy for Christmas to become about all the things we need to do, the roles we need to perform and the people we want to make happy. It’s easy for Christmas to become a list of items to tick off.

finding freedom from guilt and stress this christmas. making a christmas wreath

Christmas is about what God did, not what you do

But no matter what we do for Christmas – from the frivolous lights and tinsel and desserts, to the meaningful advent readings and church services and birthday cakes for Jesus – Christmas is not about us and what we do. It’s about God, and what he has already done.

The good news of Christmas is that God sent His only Son Jesus into the world, fully God and fully man, to live, die and rise again on our behalf. He sent Jesus to do what we could not. 

There’s nothing we can do to earn Christmas or make it better. And there’s nothing we can do to ruin it because the good news is not us. 

This Christmas, rest

So, whatever stage of life you’re in this year, whatever your abilities or limits, whatever the state of your bank account or family or house, rest in the good news that God sent His only son to live the life you couldn’t live, to die the death you couldn’t die, and to beat death once and for all.

Rest in knowing that you contribute nothing to what makes Christmas good. The good has been done. The gift has been given.

Whether you are celebrating with a mountain of gifts and food, or sitting on a cold floor with bread and butter, Jesus has come into the world, fully God and fully man, and that is good news. 

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!

Luke 2:8-14


  1. Stephanie says:

    Aaaah!… my first response, as I read through this article, Jess!
    You have flipped the frenetic pace of these last few weeks leading up to Christmas, to one of calm and peace, as you’ve refocussed us back to the real meaning of Christmas.
    I want to savour this good news: that God sent Jesus to do what we could not!

  2. Mollie says:

    “There’s nothing we can do to earn Christmas or make it better. And there’s nothing we can do to ruin it because the good news is not us. ”

    Such wisdom in this! This is truly what I want to leave as a lasting memory for my children, that the time spent on our enjoyment of the season – however sweet – is nothing in comparison to the Great Gift and Great Love that God had for us through his Son. And what a blessing and mercy it is that we are fortunate enough to have this season of respite, that we can look forward to it with such regularity.

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