It’s no secret that I love Christmas. What’s not to love? There’s a general feeling of good will that pervades everything. There’s time with friends and family. There’s all the holiday goodies that aren’t so great for the waistline but wonderful for taste buds. There’s the lights that turn ordinary neighborhoods into works of electric art at night.
And of course, there’s the real reason for the season. There’s the opportunity to renew our discipleship by following Him more fully. There’s His peace that we can feel in our hearts. There’s His light that we can share with others.
Yet for some, Christmas is simply about tradition. They enjoy friends, family, good food, and all the external trappings of the season. They may even include something spiritual in their holiday habit. But they don’t really feel the season because they’re on autopilot. They just go through the motions. Once the season is over, they return to whatever lives they had before.
Seeing these people got me thinking. Do I just go through the motions of the holiday season, or do I allow the miracle that is Christ to change my heart?
You gotta choose it
Sometimes I catch myself going through the motions. It’s not that hard to do. After all, we’re designed to have habits and play them out without thinking about what we’re doing.
But the truly fulfilled life comes only with discipline in constantly making conscious choices. We must choose consciously what we say and do. And we can’t just choose anything if we want to maximize our joy in life. We must choose Christ.
This is admittedly not the easiest task to accomplish. We are after all designed to operate out of habit. That’s why it’s more productive to leverage our natural design than to fight against it. We need to adopt the habit of not living by habit.
One way to do this is by participating in the Church’s Light the World campaign. We could also make our own calendar with actions that we choose for ourselves. Or we could go through each day of the Christmas season just looking for opportunities to share goodness. We don’t necessarily need a set plan; just an openness to whatever opportunities cross our path and a willingness to take advantage of them.
You gotta feel it
Christmas is especially appropriate for random acts of goodness. That’s what I love about this time of year. It shakes me out of my usual year-long doldrums and gets me introspective. Am I really feeling the reality of Christ within me? Or am I just on autopilot?
That is the ultimate test for me. If I’m not really feeling it inside, then it’s not really working for me. And that begs the obvious question: Why do it?
I want real. And for me, real isn’t life on autopilot. Real is life with flavor created by consciously chosen experience. I can surround myself with the real reason for the season and maybe get something out of that. Or I can consciously choose to surrender myself to Him and certainly get everything out of that.
That’s life you can feel, not just a bare existence. So whenever I realize I’m not feeling it, that’s a red flag alerting me to choose differently. I need to break my habit of living on autopilot and embrace the habit of not living by habit.
You gotta live it
Living life by conscious choice creates awareness of the joy already around us. Living life on autopilot removes that awareness. All you need for life on autopilot is to follow a habit without thinking about it.
It’s the awareness that makes all the difference. Again, that’s what I love about Christmas. It provides enough newness to shake me free of the same old same-old that bogs me down. It reminds me of my need for awareness.
Once I become aware of myself, it’s easier to live by conscious choice. And living by conscious choice results in the realization that the joy of the season is around us all year long. We simply need eyes to see.
Seeing that joy makes it easier to feel. Feeling that joy makes life delicious and truly sweet. That’s the miracle Christ makes possible for us all. He saves us not just in the next life but in this one as well. It’s a reality you can have when you consciously choose Him.
Christ truly is the real reason for the season. Are we engaging our yearly traditions on autopilot? Or are we consciously choosing Christ and allowing His miracle to save us? Consciously choosing to keep Christ in the heart is the best way to savor the season. And that will bring more joy in our journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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