“And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Does your heart, like mine, long for the Prince of Peace as we scurry through the holiday season? He’s right there, waiting with the promise to give us His soothing peace. I read it just this morning in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
This time of year, our attempts to find peace are often disrupted by frantic attempts to fit events, people and purchases into already overloaded lives. The flurry of activity can feel like a winter blizzard, even for those of us who live in Florida! But in the midst of it all, I can hear His quiet invitation. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” Matthew 11:28-30.
That yoke part is extremely good news for those of us who have ever been “yoked” to someone who is in bondage to addiction. Or for those who may be yoked to our own addictions or issues. Or who feel yoked to an unsavory past. It’s hard to move, hard to function, hard to turn around… so hard to find peace when we are yoked to something or someone who is constantly pulling us toward fear and insecurity.
Maybe we cannot even put a name on the “yoke.” Maybe it’s just a holiday thing, something that “comes over us” every year, bringing out emotions and behaviors that don’t quite seem to fit us, like old skins that we used to wear when life was out of control. These kinds of yokes are triggered in many ways. Melody Beattie calls them “Holiday Triggers” in her book The Language of Letting Go. She says, “We may not understand why we suddenly feel afraid, depressed, anxious. We may not understand what has triggered our codependent coping behaviors – the low self-worth, the need to control, the need to neglect ourselves. When that happens, we need to understand that some innocuous event may be triggering memories recorded deep within us” p. 369. She continues on the following page, “Many of us are torn between what we want to do on the holiday, and what we feel we have to do. We may feel guilty because we don’t want to be with our families. We may feel a sense of loss because we don’t have the kind of family to be with that we want. Many of us, year after year, walk into the same dining room on the same holiday, expecting this year to be different. Then we leave, year after year, feeling let down, disappointed, and confused by it all.”
Can you identify with these words? Do the holidays throw you together with people who are not a part of your regular life, but who try to put you in a “box” that you no longer (or never did) fit into? I encourage you to refuse to wear that yoke this year. Whether from certain smells, locations, traditions or people – if negative emotions are triggered by this season, there is ONE who offers one of the greatest gifts of all, PEACE. Take a moment to be kind to yourself today. Spend time reading the peace promises in God’s word. Remember the Christ Child. Embrace the angels’ words as they sang over the hills of Bethlehem so long ago, “Let there be peace on earth.” The Prince of Peace longs to go with us to every holiday party, every family gathering, every store, every moment of every day. We never need to feel alone in any situation where we would normally feel alone in a crowded room.
One final thought from Melody Beattie, “One of the greatest gifts of recovery is learning that we are not alone. There are probably as many of us in conflict during the holidays than there are those who feel at peace. We’re learning, through trial and error, how to take care of ourselves a little better each holiday season” The Language of Letting Go, p. 370. In my humble opinion, the best way we can take care of ourselves this holiday season is to let The Prince of Peace reign in our hearts! Happy, Peace-filled Holidays!
*Thank you Ami Novak for the beautiful photography to accompany this post.