By Dr. Tracy Scott
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help. My help comes from the Lord who made Heaven and Earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved, He who keep you will not slumber. Behold, He who keep Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil. He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in. From this time forth, and even forevermore”. (Psalms 121:1-8)
While the holidays can be a time of joy, happiness and fun with an anticipation of spending a festive time with love ones and friends; but for far too many the holidays are a great time of pain, disillusionment, depression and despair. This is especially the case with the social challenges of injustice faced by minorites. Every year during the holidays, close to 20-40 million Americans feel despondent or depressed, even suicidal (Matthew 26:37-38).
Over the past 20 years of providing Christian counseling and support to those who are most in need, especially during the holiday seasons; I believe that there are at least five suggestions that I can share that will be beneficial with helping to prevent you from singing the “Holiday Blues”. Keep in mind, depression is real and in addition to seeking out counsel with other saints, you may benefit from professional help. Many lives have been lost, because we believe that it (depression) will just go away!
1. Stay focus on what the holidays are really all about
. Remember that throughout scriptures, the holidays were designed to help you never forget what God has done for you. They should reflect gratitude towards God (Psalms 103). Also contained in the very first holiday (Passover) in the book of Exodus, God gave very clear and ultimate instructions that its purpose was a memorial (remembrance). Yes, God wants us to remember Him with gratitude, but He also reminds us to be concerned with those most in need (Luke 4:18). By staying focus on the meaning of the holidays you are less likely to lose perspective and turn to commercialism, which can be a catalyst for depression and despair.
2. Focus on God’s grace through recognizing the spiritual aspects of the holidays
. Take a grace inventory. Remind yourself of what God has done in your life. Read Philippians 1:6, 4:4, 4:6 and 4:19.
3. Be careful not to get caught up in the worldliness
. 1 John 2:15-17 states “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. During the holiday season if you are buying gifts, ask yourself; how do I show I care without allowing the world of advertising to manipulate my perception and thoughts? In other words, while shopping keep this thought in mind, if you really need it and can afford it, then buy it; if you don’t really need it or can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Remember, that during the first of the year when you are out of money, those bills will come due.
4. Deal appropriately with loneliness
. Loneliness is feeling isolated and estranged from people. Sometimes people feel lonely because they believe they are different from others or they believe people do not like them. But be careful not to mistake loneliness with being alone. They are not the same thing. For example, you can be in a crowd with others and still feel lonely; whereas, you can be alone with yourself and not necessarily feel lonely. I believe that one of the best ways to overcome loneliness is to become a servant. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love”.
5. Reconcile Past or Distant Relationships
. It is important to try to live at peace with others and not to hold yourself or others to unrealistic expectations. Faulty expectations, misunderstanding and unforgiveness can cause alienation, break communication, and cause someone to feel they are being mistreated or unjustly accused. Bitterness, resentment, anger and frustration may further aggravate the situation. Unresolved anger, conflict and strife, may result in broken relationships and in some cases, will lead to psychological and physical illness.
Remember, often times our feelings and thoughts of depression, despair, loneliness or the “blues” will begin to dissipate and lift as we, like Jesus in Gethsemane, persist in prayer. You must verbalize your feelings honestly to God, and then trust Him to graciously work out the details of your conflict or challenge.
Tracy Scott, Psy.D.
Healthy Living Seminars
Feeding The Soul Christian Store