The Advent and Christmas seasons are very different for most of us this year due to the continued fallout from the Coronavirus. The slower pace, however, brings with it a mixture of pluses and minuses. On the plus side we are forced to slow down. On the other hand, having more time means our hands, pun intended, might wander far too often over to our cell phone, laptop, TV remote, and maybe even all of the above, to check up on the latest news. Given all the concerns we have about this ever changing and seemingly never-ending situation, it is important to stay healthy and informed. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, has recommended that part of our emotional health can be helped greatly by backing away from all the news, noise, and electronics. The CDC said earlier this year.
“Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.”
And a new Gallop survey shows that it is only frequent church attendees who avoided a downward mental health trend in 2020. So, let’s take this time to relax, calm ourselves down and listen more closely to what God might be trying to say to us. Take the time for a walk, sing Christmas carols, read your Bible, and pray using Lectio Divina, chat with family and friends (social distanced when necessary,) even just sit quietly with a cup of your favorite warm beverage in front of the Christmas tree, with the plan to just do nothing but be quiet for a few minutes. Gaze at the Christmas lights or your nativity scene, and contemplate how Jesus is the Light of the World. Then allow your mind and heart to be with God, you don’t have to say anything to Him, just be with Him.
The more you take the time to be quiet the more you’ll hear what God has to say to you. Then you can begin to recognize what he has to say in the ordinary (or not so ordinary) moments in your life. As I, and those contributing their stories to my book Listening for God: Discovering the Incredible Ways God Speaks to Us write, it is the unexpected times that show us God is there most often. But you have to be willing to listen.
Note: Updated to include latest Gallop survey.