Is it Really “The Most Wonderful Time”?




And He said, “My Presence will go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” Exodus 33:14


I believe the holidays are the loneliest time of the year. Everywhere you look, people are told they’re supposed to be happy when they realize they’re not. They see everybody else acting happy, and they feel so lonely. Just walking down the mall can make you feel lonely.

When I’m discouraged, His presence sees me through. When I’m lonely His presence cheers me up.  When I’m worried, His presence calms me down. And when I am tempted, His presence will help me out. Psalm 116:8 says, “For Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.”


We need to practice the presence of Jesus this coming year. If you are lonely this holiday season, write down these words from Hebrews 13:5 and post them where you can see them. “…for He hath said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Greek scholars say that a better translation is “I will never, no never, leave you nor forsake you.” Believe it. Rely upon it.

Not everyone is feeling merry and bright. Some are lost. Broken. Hurting. Lonely. Filled with despair. They’re suffering from depression. How do you help someone who is depressed, especially during the holidays?

Festive and bright.

Homes and trees are decorated with twinkling lights. Mailboxes are filled to the rim with holiday cards and letters. The sound of Christmas music follows us in the mall and grocery store as we shop and on every radio station that plays as we drive about.

“Merry Christmas!”
“Happy New Year!”

Well-wishers spread holiday cheer at every opportunity.

But, not everyone is feeling merry and bright. Some are lost. Broken. Hurting. Lonely. Filled with despair. They’re suffering from depression.

How do you help someone who is depressed, especially during the holidays?

9 practical ways to help the hurting at Christmas:

  1. Pray. Before you spend time with your depressed loved one. Pray for them, pray for yourself and pray for your interaction. Ask God to lead your time together.
  2. If someone is alone during the holidays and you know that contributes to their depression, include them in celebrations. Ask them to attend your church Christmas Eve service. Take them for a coffee. Do they sing? Invite them to go caroling.
  3. Realize that the holidays are especially hard for many people. For those who are depressed, the holidays may make them feel even worse. Spend time with them outside of holiday parties and themed events. Your loved one may not be able to reciprocate in a gift exchange. Avoid the added stress and potential for unmet expectations.
  4. Does your loved one suffer worse depression during the holidays because they are grieving a loss? Be sensitive to painful topics. Ask your loved one if they would like to talk about their loss. While some may feel more sadness talking, others feel comforted.
  5. Be respectful and honoring of your loved one’s feelings. Nobody chooses to be depressed. Depression is a medical condition like diabetes and heart disease.
  6. If you’ve never suffered with depression, it’s hard to understand how painful the suffering is. Give grace. Be compassionate.
  7. Spend time with your loved one. Be available. Sit with them so they aren’t alone. Depression fuels loneliness.
  8. Keep expectations to a minimum. Normal everyday activities can seem overwhelming to a depressed friend or loved one. Make it easy by meeting in a place that’s convenient for them.
  9. Have you ever heard someone say, “It could be worse?” When you suffer with depression, you feel as if it is the worst feeling in the world. Don’t minimize the pain of their suffering. Be sensitive.

We all want to feel loved, accepted and considered worthy. Show the same love that Jesus would show. Be the hands and feet of Jesus. “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

What ways can you support someone who is struggling today?


For more hope and posts like this, visit Dr. Bengtson’s website: or follow her on Facebook:

To learn more about “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression,” Dr. Bengtson’s newly released book, see:

Follow these two tips for ways to thrive and not merely survive this Christmas.

Does the anticipation of the holidays ever fill you with dread, or leave you feeling overwhelmed? My boys love a completely decorated house. Me on the other hand, I’d be happy with a simple tree. Not only do I take on most of the responsibility for decorating the house, but also the baking, meal planning, shopping, and wrapping as well.

The year my husband was diagnosed with cancer, I was forced to re-evaluate my holiday priorities and determine how I would thrive and not just barely survive the holidays. I learned a lot through that exercise, and continue to follow many of those lessons today.

Much of the stress and overwhelm we experience, sadly, we put on ourselves. That year, I learned how important it was to be my own advocate because I know better than anyone what I need. By taking care of myself, I was in a better position to take care of my family. It was essentially akin to “putting on my own oxygen mask first” so I could then assist others.

It’s my hope and prayer that as you read over this list of suggestions, that the Holy Spirit will highlight one or two (or ten) that could help you thrive this Christmas, and enable you to look back with fond memories.

20 Ways to Thrive this Christmas

1. Pray. Before you do anything, ask God to help you set your priorities for this Christmas season. He promises He won’t ever put anything ill-fitting on you.
2. Don’t rely on your own strength. Ask God to supply His strength and stamina for anything He asks of you that day.
3. Take time to prepare. Spend time in God’s presence before anything else in the morning. This will set the tone and the course for the rest of the day.
4. Just say no. Unless God has directed you otherwise, don’t be afraid to say no to some things in order to make the best yes for you and your family.
5. Recognize you aren’t Wonder Woman or Superman. Prayerfully determine what you can reasonably do within your time, energy, and financial restraints, and be willing to ask for help.
6. Schedule time to enjoy the simple things. As a family, decide what simple joys are a priority, then schedule them. Consider caroling together or watching a Christmas movie with popcorn and hot chocolate with marshmallows.
7. Prioritize. Of all the events and activities available to you, commit to those most important to you and let the others go until another year.
8. Make personal care a scheduled priority. Put time on your calendar for things that revitalize you so you can continue pouring out to others. Consider a bubble bath or a good book over a cup of creamy java.
9. Set the tone at home. To keep homelife calm, play soothing music, light the tree or scented candles, and turn off all electronics by an agreed upon time.
10. Minimize time on social media. Social media has a tendency to show only the most positive highlight reels of others’ lives. Consider taking a social media break to be more present with those who are actually present.
11. Avoid the comparison trap. Comparison is the thief of joy. The holidays are a particularly vulnerable time to compare ourselves to others. Stay focused on the tasks and people in front of you and vow not to compare to others.
12. Maintain your regular sleep habits. Consistent sleep is vital for having energy and alertness to accomplish all your tasks. Don’t cheat our sleep now or you’ll pay later.
13. Plan your meals and your snacks in advance. Pack healthy snacks and minimize any extra sugar intake which can adversely impact your mood and energy.
14. Determine to exercise at least 15 minutes a day. Just 10-15 minutes of physical exercise is proven to improve mood and increase energy, while burning calories.
15. Be intentional about your clothing. Choose outfits that you feel good in, even on the busiest of days.
16. Lower your expectations. One of the biggest reasons for disappointment and discouragement at Christmas is unmet and/or unrealistic expectations.
17. Extend grace to yourself and others. Know that if you don’t get everything done, or done the way you’d hoped, it’s okay.
18. Try to be in the moment. Whether it’s shopping and wrapping, company parties, or family meals, enjoy that piece of the Christmas celebration right then. Don’t let yourself think of what still needs to get done.
19. Consider your thoughts. We tend to be our own worst critic. Don’t allow negative thoughts to rent space in your mind. Focus on what you can be grateful for.
20. Plan a break. Plan one day each week when you will take a break from holiday preparations.

That year when I was forced to reassess my holiday priorities is one of my fondest Christmases I can remember. Sometimes simple really is better.

I’d love to hear any other suggestions you might have for thriving and not just surviving this Christmas in the comments below.

May I pray for you?
Father, we are so very grateful for the true meaning of Christmas. Let this be a time when we would experience a greater measure of your love, and in turn, be conduits of your love toward others. Help us to seek you first in all we do, so that you may order our steps. Give us strength and stamina for the day and sweet peaceful sleep at night. Help us to keep you and your son, Jesus, as our primary focus as we seek to thrive and not merely survive this Christmas. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.

Because of Him, #PeacePrevails


For a Free eBook on How to Help a Depressed Loved One, click here: How to Help a Depressed Loved One eBook.

For more helpful information about what you need to know when you have a depressed loved one, read here:

For more about what not to say to a depressed loved one, read here: while here are suggestions about supportive things you can say to a depressed loved one:

To learn more about “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression,” Dr. Bengtson’s book, see:

And, for the Bible Study, see:

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