For this week’s Monday Minute, Liz shares what to do when you don’t feel like celebrating.

Family Celebrating at table

Flourishing when Festivities Don’t Feel Fun

by Liz Giertz

I don’t know about you, but holidays stress me out. 

I know I’m supposed to be happy but there is so much cooking, cleaning, and decorating. Not to mention the money we spend or the attempts to enjoy equal time with both sides of the family. We all know they are futile and inevitably mean one of us is missing our blood relatives at any given celebration. There is often so much build up that when the day of celebration finally arrives, it’s hard to feel anything more than let down. The painful absence of a loved one or the presence of difficult family members can make our hearts feel too heavy to bear.

Military Life Often Makes Holidays Even Harder

We have all these challenges in common with our civilian counterparts. But as military women, we also know the ache deployments, delays, duty rosters, training exercises, or a lack of leave days cause during special occasions. Even the threat of a pending hardship tour can put a damper on the best celebration. Not to mention how difficult it can be to travel long distances to spend short periods of time with loved ones we rarely see. We can’t be the only parents to have ever spent a night huddled in a corner of the airport taking turns guarding our luggage and two small children sleeping on USO provided cots. Or to have felt the guilt when getting there is too much. Or the disappointment when limited time makes meaningful connections impossible.

Then, to make matters worse, the world often cries, “Suck it up cupcake. You knew what you signed up for.” But truly, none of us know how hard military life is until we live it. And those challenges change with each duty station, every added responsibility, and all the seasons of life. None of us know the extent of the expectations the military or our loved ones will place on us until they become too heavy to bear on our own. And the holidays often become the breaking point. 

So how do we flourish when we feel far from festive?

How to Flourish When You Don’t Feel Like Celebrating:

  1. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel. Your feelings are valid and they can be good indicators of your heart condition. But you don’t have to wallow in them. Feel them and then find the truth in your situation.  
  2. Establish healthy boundaries and practice soul care. When life got hard, Jesus got away by himself to commune with the Father. It is perfectly acceptable to get away and pray and read your Bible or call a mentor when the stress gets overwhelming. You can say no to people, situations, and expenses that add stress to your life. 
  3. Look for what God is doing in this situation. God is always at work. There has never been a time when he was not motivated by love with a purpose of redemption. When we train ourselves to look for what he might be doing in our difficult situations, we begin to see his hand in everything. And that becomes cause for constant celebration.
  4. Remember what you’re really celebrating. When you start to see God’s hand at work in your difficult and stressful situations, you’ll never be at a loss for something to celebrate. And that was God’s purpose in instituting the feasts we discussed earlier this month {HERE}. He wanted his people to remember and celebrate what he had done for them. When we remember God’s past faithfulness, we find the faith flourish in the present and the courage to step forward into every tough assignment. 
  5. Serve someone else. When we serve someone else, it takes our focus off ourselves. Becoming others-focused can minimize our own problems and remind us of all we have to celebrate. 

Flourishing When Festivities Don’t Feel Like Celebrating

The truth is we are not always going to feel like celebrating just because a certain day on the calendar rolls around. But when we make celebrating God’s past faithfulness a way of life, when we incorporate it into everything we do, we will find ways to flourish even when we don’t feel festive. The truth always worth celebrating is that God sent his only son, Jesus, to earth to live a perfect life, yet be crucified for all our sins, descend into hell to defeat death and the devil, and rise again to assure us of the resurrection of believers when he returns to establish his eternal kingdom. Nothing we will ever feel can change that fact. 


Lord, help me to always celebrate your faithfulness even when I don’t feel festive so that I might have the opportunity to share my joy with others. Amen.

Verses to Ponder:

But now even more the report about him when abroad and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. Luke 5:15-16 ESV

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Psalm 68:19 ESV

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11 ESV