One Christmas List That Can Actually Relieve Your Stress

Whenever I feel the most stress, it typically comes when I am feeling least loved. And even though the holidays are all about “love”—celebrating the birth of “Love” in the form of a babe in a manger—ultimately this time of year can feel like one of the loneliest and most rejecting times of all.

This is especially true for those who are in heartbreaking and desperate marriages!

Love Relieves Stress

Even though we are not always able to change how our spouses love us, we do have the power to change the stress we feel by loving those who are in desperate need of our love.

Whenever I am most stressed, it typically comes when I am feeling least loved. #loverelievesstress Click To Tweet

Certainly, the Bible tells us to love ALL people. But it also directs our love to one very specific relationship in desperate need of our love—other Christ-followers.

Even more specifically, I want to talk today about loving other Christ-followers who are suffering and/or have great financial needs.

When we love like this, our stress level improves because …

  • It feels good to love and bless others who are in need.
  • We feel loved in return because others show gratitude and joy in the gift of love we offer them.

I have been taking my inspiration for this series, Loving Strong through Holiday Stress, from my 6 Shades of Love Facebook Bible study. (You can catch a preview of this day’s notes here).

My notes today are based on this important passage, penned by the Apostle Paul to the Philippian believers …

“It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 1:7-8

Isn’t that the most lovely and affectionate message from crusty old Apostle Paul? Melts my heart to read it every single time!

The reason I think it bursts off the page is because Paul truly and deeply loved these brothers and sisters in Christ for their constant love shown to him during his difficult missionary journeys and especially while he sat in prison—even on death row at one point!

I know the affectionate and faithful acts of these believers encouraged Paul—lessening the stress he felt because they loved him in word and deed. And I have to believe that the Philippians also felt encouraged—lessening their stress—as they read and received Paul’s affectionate affirmations and words of thanks.

So instead of drowning in the discouragement of our messy marriages,

OR

Feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of “holiday to-dos,”

OR

Focusing far too much on the “stuff of this season” when we should be focusing on the “Reason for the season” . . .

May we all choose to love our brothers and sisters in Christ in word and deed. #loveinaction Click To Tweet

Love Prisoners

I don’t know what that looks like for you …

  • Maybe it’s making time to spiritually and emotionally encourage a discouraged believer in their faith and/or life.
  • Maybe it’s buying some presents/food for a believing family that can’t afford much.
  • Maybe it’s financially supporting a missionary family.
  • Maybe it’s offering support to a Christian charitable organization.

And if you don’t know where to start, 

Consider these opportunities …

1. Samaritan’s Purse meets all sorts of needs, like: Operation Christmas Child, International Crisis Response, Feeding Programs, Health and Medical Ministries, Discipleship, Education and Training Ministries, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, just to name a few. 

2. If you’re interested in helping those “who are in chains,” then check out: Prison Fellowship’s Ministry.

3. Interested in sponsoring a child? There are a variety of ways to do this at Compassion International. (My hubby and I have sponsored Marianna from El Salvador for 7 years now. Our only regret is not doing this sooner!) 

4. Many of you know Bev Rihtarchik of Walking Well with God. She helped to found Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.,where you can sponsor a child for just $15/month. This will provide Christian education to impoverished children in Pakistan. You can find out more about how all of this works here.

Next week, I’ll be continuing in this series, with a focus on how to lessen stress by showing love to our mates. You won’t want to miss the ideas and resources I’ll be providing there! And if you’d like to be added to my 6 Shades of Love Facebook Bible study, friend me at Beth Oster Steffaniak. Private message or email me that you’d like to be added, and I’ll get right on it!

 

When has love given or received relieved you of stress in your life?

 

What are some ways you want to extend God’s love to others this holiday season?

 


Here are some lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me MondayMoments of HopeLiterary Musing MondaysDream Together LinkupJennifer Dukes LeeGlimpses LinkupTune in TuesdayBreak Through Homeschooling LinkupCoffee for Your HeartSitting Among FriendsFaith and FriendsFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

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  • Mary

    As you wrote, the Christmas season is a season of Love. I feel this most when I am doing something for someone else. It’s nice to think of love as a stress reliever. It is just the thing to help us during this busy season.

    I love that you highlighted Bev’s ministry. Her heart for those children in Pakistan is such a God-driven ministry. Blessings on your week.

    • Yes, me too, Mary! I think the correlation seems kind of like a no-brainer. But I’d not really stated it before, so it has helped me as well to run to “love” whenever I’m feeling stressed! Thanks for stopping by to encourage, my friend! Hugs to you!

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Beth,
    Thanks so much for mentioning our ministry!! We currently have twenty children on the waiting list in a part of the world where few ministries dare to go. We would love to have some folks come alongside us an pour out love on an orphaned child. I know that helping others helps relieve my stress and focus on self at the holidays. Helping others truly does help our heart. Advent blessings to you sweet friend!!
    Love and ((HUGS)),
    Bev – Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. http://redeemerchristianfoundation.org/

    • You are more than welcome, Bev! You are an inspiration to all of us in the blogging community and I only hope this brings a few extra people your foundation’s way. Thanks for stopping by, my friend! Hugs to you too!

  • Thank you, Beth, for this encouragement to focus outward and find joy.
    And we’ll always find stress when we depend too much on fragile human relationships to meet our needs. They were just not designed to bear the great weight of our neediness!

    • Great way to put it, Michele. Yes, we will always be stressed and disappointed by other humans. Better to encourage them and we gain the blessing as it almost always multiplies back on us as well.

  • Maybe some of our stress is self-imposed, when we’re too wrapped up in our own heads instead of being aware of who is around us and how we might minister to them …

    I tend to feel stressed when I’ve got far too much on my plate and when I’m tired. If we can love ourselves better and say ‘no, thanks’ more often, we’d probably have more energy and compassion for those who truly need us …

    Just some random thoughts early this morning, friend …

    • Yes, I think you’re right, Linda. Sad that at a time of year when we are encouraged to think of our loving Savior and giving to others, we get caught up in selfish desires and considerations. And you bring up a good point, we are loving ourselves when we pay attention to our limits and give where it matters most. We don’t need to be all things to all people. That’s our beautiful Savior’s job! Thanks for stopping by to “think” and share what rolls around in your lovely head, my friend!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I guess the most stressful thing for me was seeing Christmas in a context of tradition and memory; things are just so physically painful now that memory lane is anything but comfort.

    Giving that up, leaving the cherished ornaments and memories in their boxes…that is hard, but it makes it easier to gain perspective, that there are those who are far worse off. Only when one banishes sentimentality from one’s own situation can one, I think, turn the full light of compassion on others.

    https://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/12/your-dying-spouse-413-meaning-of.html

    • Yes, I can see how that would stress you, Andrew. And the holidays probably have galvanized memories of pain for you that come as the season draws near. I’m praying that your pain is relieved by all who love and surround you–both at home and in the blogosphere. And I agree, thinking about those who are far worse always brings perspective and compassion. That alone is a stress reliever! Thank you for stopping by, my friend. I do hope you feel my and all of your friends prayers being lifted up for you!

  • This is a great way to start out this season, Beth. Love the list of resources. I year or so ago, I heard a personal testimony of a little girl who was the recipient of a simple shoebox gift and how God touched her heart, eventually saved her and brought her to the US to work with one of the ministries you listed.

    • That would be wonderful to hear, Donna–that this little act of love brought a child to Christ! It truly is a wonderful opportunity to bless a child across the globe with so much more than a box can contain. My church, as well as my small group, does this every year and we find it so exciting to bless these little ones at Christmas time. Now I can add the news of how this impacted a child’s eternity! Thanks for stopping by and encouraging me, my friend!

  • Sarah Geringer

    Wonderful focus for this season, Beth. Sharing on FB & Twitter!

    • Thank you, Sarah! Your friendship and support mean a lot to me!

  • Dear Beth, until recently I would have thought the idea that giving love could be a stress reliever was just daft. Especially giving love to someone who was suffering or in need. After my recent brief mission I see what you mean and I agree. Caring for my father (small f), although hard work, was a joy and was even restful. Something I am doing differently that I need to think about. Over Christmas I’ll be keeping him under my loving gaze, and I’ll try to work out what was going on and how I can extend that to my wife and our son.

    However, none of these people are Christ-followers by any means, quite the opposite. Now that I think of myself as a Christ-follower am I to turn a cold shoulder to my family (small f)?

    • Yes, I join you in that flawed or superficial point of view–at least that was how I would have seen it in the past. Now I know without a doubt there is an undeniable connection between loving others/being loved and my level of stress. It is worthy to be stated in this very practical and provocative way.

      I’m so glad you are learning to better love your father and finding that it brings you joy and rest. I do hope you continue to ponder exactly what it is that is helping–though ultimately, it is the Lord ministering to and thru You. I hope He also brings great healing to your heart, as well as your father’s. I’m certain, whether he acknowledges it or not, he feels a difference in you and is grateful for it. Sometimes it takes years though to ease the pain and lower the defenses in troubled relationships. And the more significant the relationship, the longer it takes! I also hope you continue to extend love to your wife and son. It’s one of those odd ways God blesses our love. As we share it, it never lessens or divides but only multiplies in huge ways–spreading to all in our lives.

      Perish the thought that you would not be gracious and loving to your family members who are not Chris-followers! They are in need of Christ’s love as much or, dare I say it, MORE than other people. You will almost certainly draw them to Christ as His love is extended through you. It is the best way to share your faith and live out Christ’s love that has been and will continue to be showered on your head and heart. Thank you for your friendship, David! Consider yourself cyber-hugged!

  • It’s easy to stress and give – but loving does not create stress. That’s a really great thought! Thank you.

    • Yes, when we truly give out of love for others out of our love for God, it does not create stress–quite the opposite! Thanks for coming by and encouraging me, my friend!

  • Bonnie Lyn Smith

    Love this!!!! Sharing! I am so glad I came here today! Blessings from Espressos of Faith!

    • I’m so glad you found it encouraging, Bonnie Lyn! I’ll be stopping by your place later today once I have a window of time! Nice to meet you!

  • Thank you for redirecting the focus, Beth! Amen! Let’s love in Word and deed! : ) Great list of opportunities to give!

  • Alyson

    Love this! Concentrating on others is the “medicine” for our me-me-me-caused stress and anxiety. Thank you for pointing our focus in the right direction!

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