Managing My Heart During the Holidays


It was the first week of December, and in a raw display of honesty, I went resolutely down the frozen food aisle, gathering frozen entrees in my shopping cart like Ruth in the fields. I was working full time, being a pastor’s wife and there was something church-related on our calendar almost every night that week. Instead of scent curls rising from a delicious tender roast and the inviting smell of warm gingerbread coming from my oven, we were about to get really close with Stouffer’s. The holidays take what is an ordinarily busy schedule for a pastor and his family and put it on overdrive. There are extra services, gatherings and rehearsals, yet people still need premarital counseling, get in accidents, disagreements, get sick and need pastoral care. One year, even the “Mary” and the “Joseph” in our nativity play had gotten angry at each other in rehearsal, giving each other the cold shoulder all the way to Bethlehem, so that had to be entered into.

Coupled with the increased demands during the holidays, there is also the increased isolation the holidays can bring for a pastor and his family. During the holidays, most families in our churches understandably turn inward and plan gatherings. The pastor and his family may not be thought of for the guest list (and to be honest, it wasn’t thought of in our family growing up either). Pastors need to be present for multiple holiday services, but this may prohibit them from traveling to see their own extended families on holidays, heightening the feeling of isolation.


As a pastor’s family…You may be holding the tension of both:


  • The joy of Advent
  • The sadness of not getting to see your own extended family on a holiday


  • Disappointment of not being invited to anyone else’s family gathering
  • Relief of not having to be “on” at someone else’s home


  • The desire to offer hospitality
  • Feeling no additional bandwidth to do it


  • The deep longing for a minute somewhere to catch your breath
  • Excitement at having a front row seat when God again uses Christmas to change someone’s life for eternity



4 Things To Keep In Mind


As you enter December with its increased demands and possible increased isolation too, here are some things to hold in your heart:


Candle Lighting at Christmas


Hold December in light of eternity. Ultimately, Christ came to Earth to love us in our brokenness and pain. Love people…in their brokenness and pain (**which you may see more of around the holidays in various forms**).

Matthew 4:16 ”…the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of shadow of death a light has dawned.”

We will do the best we can in these few fleeting weeks of Advent. We will hold onto the fact that we are Christ’s chosen ambassadors, fulfilling our mission at the assigned posts He’s given us. This will help steer our thoughts away from self-pity in the heightened isolation we may feel at this time of year.


Ceramic Christmas Angel stands a long with blurred warm lights behind it.


We work so hard to create a space where our congregations can worship, but it is also important to do this for YOU. Last year I intentionally sat down late one night in the quiet once everyone was in bed (this is hard in December when the to-do list never stops!). I looked at the angel on the top of my tree and thought about the thousands and thousands of angels, worshiping in Heaven. Scenes, smells, incredible colors and sounds God has prepared for us there that my human mind cannot even comprehend. Intentionally carving out moments to thank God for His incredible gifts (the ones we can see and the ones we can’t!) helps keep our priorities in a healthy place during a month of over-the-top demands. Keeping worship as a priority also helps us “stress less” if something breaks off the sheep or angel costumes. One year I made Christmas cookies the third week of January. We are all still here…the church is still standing…Doug and I are still married…and nobody complained about cookies in January. It is ok to test out what could wait a few weeks…you may be pleasantly surprised.


Three women Singing Christmas carols together.


I love the story of Joseph (read Matthew 1-2) and how, in light of a supernatural assignment he had been given…he was provided supernatural guidance. God provided communication in a dream 4 times (!) with specific instructions on how Joseph was to move forward.

You have a supernatural assignment too. It’s intricately difficult at times and may often feel beyond you (especially going into December). You may be misunderstood by your community as Joseph was…as Mary was…but that does not take away from the fact that God gave this assignment to YOU. No one can fulfill this quite the way you can. Be all the more attuned to the supernatural guidance He offers for you to fulfill what He’s assigned you. What I have come to know through the years is that if He has asked me to do something, He WILL provide supernatural ways for me to do it…provisions and helps that make no sense from a human standpoint. Watch for those.


Two red, wooden hearts rested against each other with blurred twinkle lights behind them.


As you enter a month with bigger than usual demands and a possible higher level of isolation, know that you have a heavenly Father who sees you and loves you.
We love you here at Alongside and are grateful for who you are, and for what you sacrifice that no one sees. If no one else tells you this heard it from us…THANK YOU! You matter…more than you can know or understand. You ARE impacting the lives of others and the Kingdom. If you are feeling alone, overwhelmed and need someone to talk to or pray over you, we are here! We have a team of coaches that would welcome the chance to hear what is on your heart and encourage and pray for you.


Ok girlfriends…as we break from this huddle and a busy December approaches…hold all these things in your heart as you enter this special season. YOU. ARE. LOVED.