Start With Amen this Holiday Season

5 Ways Starting With Amen is helping me breathe (and not hustle) through this holiday season.

It feels like as soon as the Halloween candy is put away, the Christmas carols begin. I do love this time of year, but sometimes the extra activities and added pressure can steal my peace and twist good thinking into a confused mess.  Here are a few ways I am taking the practice of starting my prayers with “amen” and using them to my advantage this season.

  1. I am waking up and deciding each day to set my mind to a sacred rhythm and let go of trying to control what isn’t mine to determine. This means, I ask Jesus before I make plans and I refuse to please other people at the expense of my own sense of peace.

Living amen is a sacred rhythm. It is surrender to sovereignty in all circumstances. The result is a rapport with the living God so intense it permeates everything. It affects how I talk to my husband, interact with neighbors, spend money, make plans, and raise my kids. It influences how affected I am by other people’s thoughts of me or someone else’s crisis. It’s the antidote to fear and control when they raise their heads in my thoughts.

  1. I am confessing sin before my expectations ruin a mood or moment. I am saying “no” to perfect (decorations, wrapping, turkey stuffing) when “just right” is better. I am releasing the people in my life from performing and instead engaging with them; choosing to value their relationship most.

The first step we’ve established is confession, asking, “Where am I living/thinking/loving wrong?” The next step is a release of expectations or, as we’ve defined it, “premeditated resentments.” And this is where it can get tricky.

  1. I am putting people before tasks by being intentional with others. I want to do kind acts out of love, instead of convenience, believing these are the stories I will remember after this season is over. How can I show I really see someone? How can I take a moment to thank a friend for how they’ve impacted my life? Considering these questions daily ensures I am conscious about putting people first.

Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said people will know who we are by our love. When someone loves you well, you are moved. This season, I was convicted about all the previous times I had put a task or an accomplishment above a relationship. If I am too busy for people, what exactly am I doing?

  1. I am living with chutzpah. The time is now, friends. I don’t want to put off until later what God is prompting me to do today. I will reach out to a neighbor. I will say sorry about the situation I would rather ignore. I will boldly love, boldly be generous, boldly ask for healing. This is a time of year to swell, not shrink, our faith.

Chutzpah has been made a joke by Seinfeld episodes and pop culture, but it’s an ancient word representing unwavering faith, the kind rewarded by God. Think of the widow who wouldn’t stop knocking on the door of the judge (Luke 18), eventually compensated for her persistence, her chutzpah.

  1. I am seeing generosity as an outflow of what I get from God, not what I must do for others. We often celebrate holidays with gifts that cost money. I hope rather to give gifts of kindness, listening, forgiveness, time, service, wisdom, discernment, compassion, empathy… all of these first extended to me by Jesus and now commissioned to give away.

I choose to be generous instead of petty and thoughtful instead of selfish. I choose light over hiding and kissing to make up over holding a grudge. Each time those choices hurt, and most times they do, I tell myself they are just growing pains.

This is a time of year to not rush through or wish away, but to be deliberate. I am hoping with these convictions and practices, I can enjoy moments throughout the day when my spirit trumps my flesh. That’s reason enough to celebrate! I am hoping the result is an investment in people I’ll enjoy all year long and a step towards greater spiritual maturity.