How to awaken your heart anew this holiday season

Written by Shawna Sullivan
Published on December 06, 2022

Holiday lights, party invitations, and festive recipes call out in unison to our deepest desires for comfort and joy this time of year. Sweet treats, wish lists, and trendy decor offer their services at the exact time of year our discipline wanes and hearts want. Does anyone else struggle with decision fatigue as the calendar fills and expectations rise, or is it just me?

The numerous ups and downs each year result in the temptation to simply coast on autopilot and overindulgence through the holiday season. Perhaps your year has been similar to ours: full of celebration, adventure, and heartbreak alike. So come November, I’m just plain tired. 

Do you ever wonder how the holiday season would feel if we as parents intentionally decided this year would be markedly different? Rather than overcommitting and overindulging, how can we manage through family gatherings and school parties without wanting to give up before it starts? How can we ensure that come January, we won’t sit with regret as we reflect on where we spent our money, time, and energy?

We need encouragement to navigate well and finish the year faithfully. I pray these three strategies help usher us through to the new year with joy intact and a heart awakened to something greater than momentary pleasure.  

Assess your heart

When assessing the viability of our overall health, the heart holds the key to wellness. While we know this is the lifeline for other functions in our bodies, it is commonly the most overlooked when making decisions or purchases. Yet scripture warns us repeatedly that where we invest our time and money is a direct reflection of the areas our hearts value most (Matthew 6:21). Therefore, your heart is equally as critical to your spiritual health as to your physical health and must be reassessed on a regular basis. 

Before we enter the throes of the holiday season with all its alluring glamour and glittering promises, wisdom invites us to pause and consider the condition of our hearts. I liken it to taking inventory, a process of analyzing whether our outward lives and inner lives are congruous. 

To take inventory, use these suggestions as a starting place: 

• What is one current gift in your life that you cherish?  

• What is one area of your life that you consistently spend the most time and/or money maintaining? Is there a change you need to make?

• What is one thing you deeply desire for this holiday season?

Acknowledging how our hearts are doing before we head into the holiday season better aids us in navigating the pressures, demands, and schedules. Allow these questions to guide your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ along the way. This end of year process, while tedious, is important to help direct the allocation of our time and resources. 

Steward grace 

Once we assess our hearts and acknowledge our gifts, we more willingly engage in opportunities to use these entrusted gifts for the good of others. 

Embarrassingly, however, my excitement over the holidays grows in equal proportion to my grumbling. I am aware that the root of my grumbling resides in my lack of acknowledgement of the goodness of God in my life, but subtle complaints, thoughts of dissatisfaction, or unmet expectations continue to steal my joy during the holiday months, especially as a parent. 

We buy the matching outfits for pictures only to have our infants cry the entire time. We place a down payment on Nutcracker tickets only to fall sick the night before. We agree to host the family gathering only to feel it’s one more thing amid chaos. 

So, how do we limit grumbling and grow in gratitude when we feel weary? 

Live as a steward of grace. 

During the holiday season, we not only steward money and time, but we possess the opportunity to steward grace. Scripture instructs us to “show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:910 ESV).

Here are a few practical ways to be a steward of grace:

• Check in with a relationship in your life that is long overdue, and intentionally set a date to connect. 

• Consider a need in your community and think of one thing you can do to help. 

• Continue to use words that speak life to those around you. 

To journey onward towards the end of the year with joy, let us acknowledge the gifts by taking inventory of our hearts, then fight against the grumbling by stewarding grace to those around us.

Overflow in generosity

As we steward grace to others, our hearts in turn fill allowing generosity to overflow. Just as the men are given various talents to invest in Matthew 25, God has entrusted much to us for the good of others. 

Generosity is a willingness to give or share with another, so when we take inventory of the gifts God has given us to manage, our hearts grow in gratitude, which enables us to better embrace generosity. This means gratitude not only precedes generosity but fuels it.

So, reflect on the following: 

• What is one area in which I can grow in generosity?

• What is one obstacle that I continually face when it comes to increasing in generosity?

• What is one way I can better model generous living for my family?

Author J.I. Packer refers to the relationship of gratitude and generosity in the heart of a Christian by saying that our “love awakens love in return; and love, once awakened, desires to give pleasure.”

May this be a holiday season where, rather than merely increasing appetites for more, our hearts awaken to counting the gifts in our lives. As stewards of grace, may we overflow in generosity and extend this grace, hope, and love to those around us all year long.

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Shawna Sullivan

Shawna Sullivan is a mother and home educator to four children. After 13 years, she traded the hustle and bustle of New York City for the suburbs of north Texas. She will never take a backyard, time with family, air conditioning, or her own laundry room for granted. She writes, speaks, and creates practical resources to help parents find purpose and joy in every season. 

Shawna and David, her husband of 18 years, also recently launched a curriculum encouraging and equipping others to view their life through the lens of investing. Passionate about faithful stewardship, her bi-monthly newsletter is filled with practical application and wisdom for navigating this one life well. Connect with Shawna on Instagram for a peek into her real life, and grab your free resources for parenting on her website at


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