Finding Peace Amidst the Anxiety of Christmas

BY Scott Hamilton Lecturer in Pastoral Counseling

December 2015 Inscribed

I noticed the first Christmas commercials on television this year during the first week of November. My initial response was, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” My wife promptly reminded me that a few chain stores had brought out their Christmas decorations in June, which just exacerbated my frustration.

Thanksgiving officially ushers in the Christmas season, along with its secular lunacy. I’ll confess to a bit of anxiety as I anticipate the frenetic pace of the season. Please don’t misunderstand; I’m not anxious in a negative way. While I realize I am solely responsible for my response to that unease, I also relish the prospect of hunkering down in the season’s squall and uncovering the interior respite available to me even when the storm rages externally.

Most of us manage a small element of anxiety on a consistent basis. Ron Rolheiser, in his book The Holy Longing, describes ‘anxiety’ as a fundamental disease in the human condition, an image that works well for me. The 4th century North African bishop Augustine suggested that people do not find inner peace of any sort until we find rest in God. I take great comfort in knowing that the season’s potential madness does not control my response. I can choose to be still, relaxing in the peace of God (Psalm 46:10, NRSV) and the joy of the season.

My personal prayer this year is that I will rest in the knowledge of the One who invaded human time and space, the One who came as the greatest gift ever presented: the Lord Jesus Christ, author of our salvation. This opportunity for repose reminds me that regardless of life’s external tempests, my soul is indestructible.

Dr. Scott Hamilton (Ph.D., Walden University) is Lecturer in Pastoral Counseling at YTI. He is a clinically trained psychologist, pastor, and spiritual director.