How to know the Christmas bustle is getting the best of you

Ashley Wheelon

“I feel like that girl needs a friend, but I don’t have time for another friend right now.” 

I’m normally a social butterfly, but the moment those words left my mouth, I knew my priorities were messed up. Christmas celebrates how God’s great love for us sent Jesus into our world, and I can’t even stomach the thought of reaching out to one lonely person. I needed a reality check.

If you want to know where your priorities lie, look at your calendar and see where you’re spending your time. 

I’ve heard that if you want to know where your priorities lie, look at your calendar and see where you’re spending your time. When I did that, I realized that I had committed myself to so many activities I was simply overwhelmed. 

I don’t know how anyone avoids a full calendar in December, but I know that when I look back on this season, I want to have memories, not just a blur of chaos. And if my goal is to love others the way Jesus loves, then I need to look at how He prioritized His time.

Where Jesus Spent His Time

1. With God

Jesus attracted attention wherever He went and was constantly surrounded by crowds. People wanted to be close to the man who performed miracles, taught them about God, and loved the outcasts. But the Bible shows again and again that Jesus separated Himself from the people to spend time with God (Matthew 26:39, Mark 1:35, Luke 3:21). The relationship Jesus prioritized above all others was His relationship with His heavenly Father.

2. With His inner circle

Jesus surrounded Himself with an inner circle of godly men. These 12 men, Jesus’ disciples, were His friends. He invested in those relationships, answering their questions (Matthew 17:19-20), performing miracles on their behalf (Remember the raging storm in Mark 4:35-41?), and inviting them to be a part of His ministry (Matthew 10:1). The disciples traveled with Jesus, learning from Him and getting to know Him.

3. With His outer circle

The first books of the New Testament — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — tell the story of Jesus’ life on Earth. In all of those stories, Jesus’ deep love for others is obvious in the way He never hurried past anyone and got too busy to invest in someone. 

Jesus stopped to talk to a woman who could have been healed with just a touch of His robe (Luke 8:43-48). He traveled to the city of Bethany to raise His friend, Lazarus, from the dead, only after weeping and mourning with Lazarus’s sisters (John 11). Relationships with people are important to Jesus. That’s why He died on the cross. He sacrificed His life to have relationships with us. 

Jesus sacrificed His life to have relationships with us. 

My reality check isn’t a one-time thing; it’s a daily perspective. My relationship with God needs to come first. Spending time with God isn’t something I need to check off my list. It’s a privilege to get to pour my heart out and learn more about the infinite Creator who cares so deeply for me (Psalm 62:8). 

My inner circle comes next: my husband, my children, my family. Instead of putting the people in my house on the back burner, these are the people I need to love intentionally and minister to. 

Last is the outer circle: coworkers, neighbors, friends, and yes, especially that girl who needs a friend. Each of us is created in the image of God and He doesn’t cross my path with another’s by accident. I get the privilege of loving God’s people the way Jesus loves me. 

I’m still fighting to run my calendar instead of letting it run me. But when I invest my time in my relationships with God, my inner circle, and my outer circle, I find that I end the day exhausted yet fulfilled. I can’t help but think that’s what God would want for us — to finish each day knowing we gave it our all and looking forward to doing it again tomorrow (Philippians 2:17). 

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