Sometimes, after I cross a finish line … and after I’ve stuffed my face with food, celebrated being done, and recovered a few days … I start to feel adrift.  My miles don’t seem as purposeful as they did before the race.  I was warned before my first marathon that a post-race depression might set in after the event.  I found it hard to believe then, but I now know from experience that it can happen.  When we set our sights, expectations and hopes on a future event, preparing for it can consume much of our thoughts and time.  When the event is over, it’s natural to feel a lack of focus and a need to step back and reevaluate our direction.

With my whole heart I seek thee; let me not wander from thy commandments.  Psalm 119:10

Christmas is my all-time favorite season, and I cherish the preparation and anticipation surrounding it almost as much as the day itself.  Chilly weather, a much-needed respite from routine activities, time with family and friends, and feelings of generosity and happiness that permeate hearts make it a unique season not replicated any other time of the year.  Sometimes, I catch myself fearing its conclusion.  I’m always ready to start a new year with hope, but the thought of packing away the décor and returning to fully-scheduled, ordinary days can be disheartening.  I think that’s a sign my focus may be in the wrong place.  If our focus is in the right place, it will provide hope and peace before, during, and after any special event we prepare for and anticipate.  Special occasions such as Christmas, weddings & births require and deserve much preparation.  We want them to be special, unique experiences that overwhelm us in the moment, teach us through their joys and challenges, and give us lasting memories.  In the process, we can become improved versions of ourselves.  The pervasive warmth and love of Christmas causes us to pause in the moment and remember God should be our focus 365 days each year.  I expect to feel a little sad when the season ends (and total dismay at the sight of discarded Christmas trees on the side of the road).  However, any melancholy feelings will be temporary, and the memories of this Christmas and the hope they instill will help me refocus my attention on God.  A finish line is the beginning of another adventure and an opportunity to stop and reflect on the race just run before moving on.  Here’s to a new year of hope and anticipation – a time to accept with joy the gifts God offers and the opportunities He extends.  May it be a year of blessings and peace!

Dear God, please help us focus on You today and always.