Protecting your peace through the holidays

Written by Andrea Jones
Published on December 01, 2023

I don’t know about you, but for me and for many of the coaching clients I work with, there can be an increase in emotional intensity, stress, and anxiety during the holidays. It seems that with all the children’s Christmas events, family dinners, and the endless list of things we feel we have to do, we lose sight of what truly matters. And beyond that, we don’t know how to prioritize peace amid the chaos.

I used to think that having peace through the holidays meant just putting up with the intensity, the family drama, and unresolved trauma that was brought up every year when I realized just how dysfunctional my family of origin really was, and slapping on a smiley face while saying “Jesus is the reason for the season.” 

Don’t get me wrong… Jesus IS the reason for the season, but so many of us are using that statement (or similar statements) as a means of excusing ourselves from really taking a look at the factors in our life that are driving a lack of peace, inviting the Holy Spirit to help us do some personal inventory, and creating healthier, more realistic boundaries and expectations for the holidays, instead of running ourselves ragged and expecting our minds, bodies, and spirits to remain in a state of peace. 

Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” That word “peace” in the Greek means rest, tranquility, safety, and security. Because it is a fruit of the spirit, it is something we can develop over time with the help of the Holy Spirit—even if we don’t have it currently.

I so desperately wanted the Hallmark Movies type holidays with the family reconciliations, kids who lovingly made me breakfast while I sat in bed with snow falling outside my window and no arguments with my spouse. And when reality looked different than that, I found myself steeped in disappointment instead of gratitude for the season, for the revelation of Jesus’ presence, and for all that He had for me to enjoy in this season. What I was looking for was really a false sense of peace, when God wanted to give me true peace which came from being in alignment with His truth about my circumstances that required me to establish peace by taking action in some key areas.

What I began to learn while working with a counselor was that I carried an internal belief that I must have peace at any cost—even if that cost was my own mental health, my personal boundaries, the health of my immediate family, and so on. This was actually a faulty coping mechanism because as a child, I rarely felt peaceful. My home life was very chaotic and dysfunctional, and because of that, my nervous system was essentially screaming out “Fight for peace—no matter what!”.

It wasn’t until I began looking at what peace really was and what it meant for me, that I began to partner with the Holy Spirit in finding ways to intentionally create peace instead of just avoiding all of my uncomfortable emotions around the holidays. 

Proverbs 3:16–18 tells us that wisdom leads to peace: “Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.” Wisdom usually requires us to take a good look at our lives and make changes accordingly. 

It took me a few years of holidays to get a solid grasp of what peace meant for me and it looks a little bit like this:

Peace means not having to stay in environments where I am expected to tolerate inappropriate behavior, comments, or reactions from others. If there are family members or events that I’m invited to where this consistently happens, I will either choose to decline or I will set a time limit for how long I’m going to be there. My husband and I even developed code words for when we had both hit our limit and needed to leave. 

Peace means not having my children become overtired, overstimulated, and irritable just for the sake of saying we did something fun. I love to have fun and do all the events on our list, but I am also looking at what we can actually handle and tolerate and realizing that those fun things quickly become awful experiences if all of us are exhausted and irritable from doing too much. 

Peace means not compromising my rest for the sake of “doing it all.” I had to learn to realistically look at what things brought me joy and fit into our core faith and personal values as a family.

Identify your core values

This is important because most of us find ourselves hustling and bustling through the holidays without even considering our core family and faith values as part of the equation. Take some time to sit down with your spouse and ask them what are the most important things to them during the holidays. What do you each enjoy? What do you dislike? What adds stress to your plate? What makes you lay awake at night feeling resentful from the day before? How am I creating and making time for my connection with God through all of this? 

Really take stock of these things because it is impossible to have a true sense of peace if we are operating out of bitterness, obligation, and overwhelm. 

Reverse engineer your holidays 

Once you’ve identified your core values, it’s time to do a little reverse engineering. What this looks like for me is now that I know that I don’t want to spend every weekend baking for ten hours, or staying up until one in the morning wrapping presents, having to go to another family dinner that is uncomfortable and borderline unhealthy for me. I look at the weeks ahead and create my list of what we will and won’t do.

Now that I know what I want and need and how to protect my peace, who do I need to communicate with to ensure this happens? If you’re reading this and you know that saying “no” to a certain relative is going to stir up drama because of their reaction—don’t ignore this. This is a red flag that boundaries desperately need to be created. If you get triggered by saying no or having to communicate what you need and want, this would also be a good time to seek wise counseling from a trained counselor to work through any lingering issues that make that difficult. 

Reevaluate it weekly—do I still feel peaceful? Is overwhelm creeping in? Are my kids thriving? If the answer to any of those questions is “no,” then it’s time to reevaluate and adjust. 

If you’ve been struggling with the holidays in the past, I want to encourage you—there is hope. The holidays don’t have to be perfect for you to have peace and God wants to help establish peace for you as you trust in Him! 

Consider a few extra resources:

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Andrea Jones

Andrea Jones is a mother of 2, owner of the international company Abundant Wellness With Andrea, Podcast host, and inner healing pastor at her local church in Vancouver Washington. When she’s not busy helping women balance their hormones and moods naturally, she is supporting her local inner healing team by providing training and equipping for ministry both locally and abroad. Becoming a special needs mom was not something she ever saw coming, but through the Lord’s help, guidance and strength, she has learned that her source of hope comes from Him, and has seen miracles unfold because of His abiding presence. 




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