Welcoming the New Year with Hopeful Anticipation
Kayla Sullivan • Dec 12 2020
Only two days separate us from Christmas and the celebration of Jesus’s birth. Commercialism is at an all-time high, and the stress level is ever-increasing. Frantic consumers seek the perfect gift. Online shoppers, in some instances, are in a panic as their packages are delayed in transit. Will they arrive in time for Christmas? What happens if they don’t?
A silent night, none can find. The frenzy of cleaning and decorating is in full swing. Cookies are in the oven and plans are in place for a Christmas feast. There’s always something else to do or another event to attend. Holding onto the promise of a few rest-filled days after Christmas keeps us going. But did you know that for some, those days are not all that they’re cracked up to be? Ironically, some of the most difficult days of the holiday season actually take place in the days that follow December 25.
Individuals can easily be triggered throughout the Christmas season. As a result, some will turn back to their destructive patterns – which may include pornography. In fact, December 27 consecutively ranks as the busiest day of the year for the porn industry.
Throughout the holiday season, be on the lookout for some common triggers. While you cannot always avoid them, having a plan in place to help you deal with them can help you celebrate this season without regret.
The family get-togethers are not always joyous. For some, they are painful reminders of the past. An overwhelming flood of memories is ushered in, reminding you of the secrets that have been kept for a lifetime. The pain of childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect – which you’ve tried to forget – rises to the surface.
Others leave the festivities feeling as if they’ll never measure up to their family’s expectations. It doesn’t matter that you’re successful in life, it feels like it’s never enough. Because you chose a different career in life than your parents had hoped for, you constantly feel as if you’re a disappointment. Battling feelings of condemnation, you return home doubting the decisions you’ve made in life.
And then there are those who had to face the reality of empty chairs at the dinner table – placeholders for those you’ve loved and lost this year.
Don’t suffer in silence. Plan to check in with a close friend before and after your family gathering. Having this safeguard in place can help you avoid the emotional low that otherwise may be experienced.
Those struggling with the loss of a loved one, especially their spouse, may report feelings of loneliness even while surrounded by family and friends. This level of loneliness isn’t about being around people. Instead, it’s about experiencing a level of intimacy that was once shared with someone else.
Even among the general population, there is an increasing number of people who report feeling lonely and isolated. CIGNA reports that Generation Z, adults between the ages of 18 and 22, is the loneliest generation. More than 47% of Americans who responded to the survey admitted to regularly feeling left out. COVID-19 has only added to these overwhelming feelings.
In a study conducted by the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, nearly 65% of participants reported increased feelings of loneliness in the wake of the global pandemic. Sadly, more than 55% reported that they’ve sought out unhealthy coping strategies – including drugs and alcohol – to medicate the loneliness.
Coupled with Christmas and the inability to gather with loved ones may further increase this percentage.
Do your part to stay connected this holiday season. When possible, reach out to family and friends. Continue to attend church, whether it be virtually or in-person. And most of all, make time to grow in your relationship with the Lord.
As mentioned earlier, most people feel the effects of the busyness of Christmas. The logical, decision-making part of your brain is not as responsive during times of exhaustion. As a result, you’ll begin to react emotionally from your limbic system.
Floyd Godfrey of Family Strategies Counseling Center notes,
“Addiction is wired into the limbic area of the brain, so when you’re tired, you’re more susceptible to slips. Plan ahead to avoid getting sleep deprived. Rest when you need to so you’ll have the mental energy to fight temptation toward pornography addiction.”
Consider ways to ensure that you’re getting enough rest, both in the days leading up to Christmas and in the days that follow.
Coupled with free time, the new devices received on Christmas morning can quickly become problematic. Parents need to know that it’s easier than ever to access adult entertainment with the click of a mouse or tap of a button. In fact, some pornography websites secure domains very similar to the search words used by students. Parents need to remain attentive to internet activity, including any video games that allow interaction with other players.
Ensure that installing accountability software is a top priority. For parents, initiate conversations about internet safety and how to respond to inappropriate images and content. Encourage them to come to you directly should such content be found.
Set limits on the time spent on technology.
Though you do not have to head to work or school, maintain a schedule. For those involved with a small group, plan to continue meeting – even if you know that some members will be absent due to holiday travel.
During this season of holiday reflection, take note of the areas in your life where you need to experience change. Instead of falling prey to the schemes of Satan, choose to take action. When you’re feeling isolated, alone, exhausted, insignificant, and overwhelmed, reach out to a friend, pastor, counselor, or family member. Avoid reaching for the remote control or turning to your computer to unwind.
For those struggling with addiction, including pornography addiction, check out the Conquer Series.
The Conquer Series is a powerful 10-week course that combines both science and Scripture to help you regain control of your life. It explains why trying harder does not work, the brain’s response to addiction, and will guide you through the process of finding your identity in Christ. As you embark on this journey, you’ll usher in a season of healing, redemption, and forgiveness – toward yourself and others.
For churches, now is the time to consider planning for your next round of small groups. The Conquer Series is a great study to use for both men and women. For best results, it’s recommended to host gender-specific groups.
This Christmas can be a year of triumph as you become more than a conqueror in Christ. Sign up today!
From all of us at Soul Refiner, Merry Christmas!
The Conquer Series is a powerful cinematic series which is helping over 1 million men conquer porn and walk in freedom.
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