The Leviathon of Christmas Chaos
People were streaming down Oxford this week in an almighty surging snake that reminded me of the Leviathan of Chaos in Psalm 74:14. Ok that might sound like a little bit of an odd association but I think a helpful one. For people who struggle with retaining a balance in their mental and emotional heath this can be a very tricky season. Christmas Chaos rears its head sometime in early December as the pressure of the consumer world kicks in. Suddenly the normal rhythm of life is overtaken with an array of impending social, family, financial and expectation challenges, and all this is wrapped in the need to remain joyful as we celebrated the birth of Jesus.
This is matched with the lethargy and lowness that is caused by the continual lack of sunlight as the winter months roll on. The Leviathan of scripture thrives in the dark depths of the sea where no light penetrates. For many emotionally sensitive individuals, especially those who are struggling with depression, healthy lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, walks in bright sunshine and just getting out of the house are all compromised at this time of year.
Initially this may have had little or no impact, but as we move into December and then look towards January the lack of light, warmth and exercise can really take effect. Because of this stow transition we can be left wondering what has changed and why lowness may have taken hold again.
It is exceptionally important that we walk through this season with an awareness of the impact of the season, both the weather and the festivities. We need to consider our needs as well as the needs of others. Many people find this time of year unbearable as they are herded, against their will, into family or work contexts that are dynamic and challenging at the best of times. Having been starved of sunlight for months and rained on for weeks we are vulnerable to succumb to the Leviathan of Christmas Chaos.
I am aware that the anger and stress that is so often aroused at this time of year is often a reaction to the chaos outside of ourselves rather than any deeper internal conflict. Unfortunately as is so often the case with deep feeling people, it is internalised, leaving them feeling guilty and frustrated.
The challenges of the Leviathan of Christmas Chaos cannot be removed, but their impact can be mitigated. Try following the simple steps below:
1) Plan your season carefully, including shopping, budgeting and carving out time for yourself and your immediate family.
2) Decide how much time you wish to spend with extended family, let them know in advance and stick to your plan.
3) Avoid over indulging in drink or food, and try and maintain some level of exercise during the festive period.
4) Worship Jesus over Christmas, keeping the focus on Him makes everything worthwhile and eases many tensions
5) Get outside as much as you can, go for a walk or get to the gym. Keep exposing yourself to as much natural light as possible.
6) Buy next-year's diary now and have it with you for quiet moments of looking ahead when the pressure is on.
7) Have realistic expectations of yourself. Treat yourself with compassion and gentleness.
8) Watch Mary Poppins.
Finally remember that God is not the god of chaos, but one of order and power. In Psalm 74:12 it says, “For God is my King from old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.”
I pray that the Prince of Peace, Jesus; the reason for Christmas will give you joy and order and peace in this busy season.