If you’re not feeling the joy of the season, you’re not alone. Many people report feeling more stress and less joy during the holidays than at other times of the year.
Ironically, the very fact that we expect ourselves to feel the Christmas spirit can make us feel worse.
Sadness, disappointment, grief, loneliness, and exhaustion are common during the holidays. These emotions aren’t pleasant, but they can sometimes hold unexpected blessings. One way to glean the goodness from any experience is to take time for prayerful reflection.
The first four lines of the Christmas Carol “Joy to the World,” by G.F. Handel and Isaac Watts, can serve as springboards for 4 groups of questions. These questions could be used privately in prayer or journaling. They could also be used as a discussion guide for a spiritual conversation with a friend.
1. “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”
a. Where am I looking for joy?
b. What do I really want/desire/love?
c. Are my desires prioritized so that I know what I’m willing to let go of in order to hold on to what I want most?
2. “Let earth receive her king!”
a. Am I receiving the gifts God has given me today?
b. What are the good things that are already in my life that I could be enjoying more wholeheartedly?
3. “Let every heart prepare him room,”
a. How can I put a mental boundary on burdens and distractions to make more room for Christ in my soul?
b. Where is my focus?
c. How can I aim more of my attention at Christ and all things Christlike?
4. “And heaven and nature sing!”
a. What song is in my heart right now?
b. What song or psalm or poem do I want to be resounding in my soul right now?
c. How can I set myself up to be surrounded more often by music that lifts my soul to God?
Let me know how these prompts work for you. I’d also love to hear what journaling or discussion prompts you have found to be helpful, or how you intentionally fill your soul with uplifting music!