Before we even realized it, the holidays were upon us. For some it might have started with the Halloween decorations and consuming too much sugar – for both you and the kiddos. From there it was only 3 weeks until Thanksgiving – what? How did that happen? And now Christmas is fast approaching – a little over 2 weeks away! So how do we maintain not just a healthy soul, but a healthy spirit and body as well?
Let’s Start with the Basic Foundation First – Our Spiritual Health
I’d like to talk about Christmas in particular. First of all, in its truest, purest sense, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. So, let’s build on that premise regarding how to maintain a healthy soul through the holidays. This being true, then it’s not about Christmas trees or an over-abundance of the fanciest, most expensive presents to put under it. It’s not about the latest Christmas fashion, caroling or over-stuffed dinners. It certainly is not about consuming the alcohol libations beyond our abilities to even function. And it’s not even about making a gratuitous donation to the poor and needy simply to justify our exuberant indulgences. Over the years we have continued to increase in all of these activities, losing site of the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
When we lose sight of this most precious, vital part of our wholistic health, it all spirals downward from there. Now, keeping this vital foundational piece in mind as it relates to the holidays, and Christmas in particular, let’s dive a little deeper into a specific part of our mental health, and that is our budget and our spending, and how it can influence a healthy soul.
Does Our Spending Affect Our Health?
We are now only a little over 2 weeks away from Christmas, the biggest spending time of the year for most people. In fact, November and December are the biggest months of the year for almost every retailer because of the holiday spending —Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, and New Year’s. And who is doing that spending? We are!
Our budget is a key piece to one of the four major pieces of the Wholistic Health pie – our Mental Health. Most of us, unless you are one of the very minor few, only have so much money each month to live on, save and give away. We have limited resources. If we started the year off right, we would have budgeted and planned all year for Christmas. The question is, what were we planning to do with that money we set aside each month in preparation for what should be one of the most holiest days of the year? Did your budgeting have anything to do with Jesus? If so, was it the priority, the main reason you planned and saved? Before I go any further, let me say that right now I am preaching to myself first.
Let’s break this down a little further. If it was done properly, and we wanted to budget and plan for Christmas, for what the real reason for the season is – Jesus – we would have first determined an amount we wanted to set aside. Second, we would determine what we wanted to do with that money. The best way to determine that, is to ask Him! Would you indulge me for a moment and let me be transparent, and share with you a little lengthy, but hopefully encouraging Christmas story? But before I do, this is not to toot my own horn by any means. In fact, it’s as much of a reminder to me, as it is hopefully a word of encouragement to you.
Probably 20 years ago now, I was living in Charleston, SC. My chiropractic practice was only a few years old. Several weeks before Christmas, I had just learned that this man I had been pining for, not only broke my heart, but deceived me in the process. I was still a fairly new Christian at the time. As a result, I ended up having a big ol’ pity party for myself. I was unable to travel to be with family that year, mainly because finances were low, so to add insult to injury, I was spending the holidays by myself. But because I was having a pity party for myself, I didn’t get out of my pajamas all Christmas day, I deliberately didn’t answer the phone when family members tried to call to wish me a merry Christmas – what was so merry about it? And I entertained myself by watching Lifetime Channel for Women all…Christmas…Day. Talk about pitiful!
The following Christmas was now fast approaching, and once again I was unable to be with family for the holidays, and the finances weren’t any better. But one thing I vowed, was that I was never going to have another Christmas like I had the previous year! And that’s when the true magic of Christmas began for me. Because I grew a little in my faith that year – out of these various adversities truthfully — I learned how to not only listen for God’s voice, but to write it down. (To learn what I learned about hearing God’s voice, see my book “Are You Being Deceived About True Wellness”). And it was in that precious humble moment, that Jesus gave me the insight to ask Him what He wanted for Christmas. He spoke so clearly, and specifically that I could hardly write fast enough – my excitement was growing with every word from Him! After all, it truly is ALL about Him. It’s His birthday – not mine, not yours, not even your children’s – it’s His. He spoke so clearly to my heart and showed me just what He wanted that year – He wanted me to bless “the least of these” on Christmas morning, and in a very specific way. He wanted me to prepare 10 care packages for 10 homeless people living on the streets of Charleston. He gave me every little detail of what was to go into those care packages, where specifically to go, even what time to go Christmas morning. Still, to this day, that was the best Christmas I ever had.
Over the following years, this became our (Jesus’ and my) tradition – whether I was with family or not. Every year it was something uniquely different. And the “icing on the cake” with this kind of Christmas giving is this: For years, my Dad told us kids that all he wanted for Christmas (and Father’s Day and his birthday too) was for us to simply “do something nice for someone else and tell him about it.” That was our gift to him. So, this kind of giving was, and is a win/win/win all the way around. The person being blessed wins, the giver wins, and the one who “has everything” wins as well. This tradition with Jesus became my Christmas gift to my Dad every year after that until he went home to Jesus.
How Our Spending Affects Our Spiritual Health
Does our (Christmas) spending affect our health? Absolutely! When spent the right way it affects our spiritual health, by giving the way Jesus wants us to. The ending to that first magical Christmas with Jesus was this: I had patients and church family wanting to be a part of this Christmas giving. Our worship pastors, Pastor B. and his wife, Pastor B., asked how they could help. I told them I may get them to help me buy some blankets as one of the items I heard Jesus telling me to include in those care packages. Even buying blankets at the Thrift store were $10 and up – that was a $100 just for blankets. In the end, Jesus made a way for these as well (that’s an amazing story inside of this story for another day!). In fact, He gave me more financially through others, than I needed for the gifts He asked of me. So much so, that I was able to donate the “over flow” to the local homeless shelter.
Now that the assignment was done, I went onto Christmas church service that morning – my heart just over-flowing with “Joy to the World!” As the offering basket was passed around, I realized in the excitement of that morning, I had left my checkbook at home. All I had was a $5 bill that I dropped in the offering basket. At the end of the service, as I was walking out the church door, pastor B. slipped something into my hand and wished me a merry Christmas – lo and behold, it was a $50 bill! You simply can’t out-give God!
How Our Spending Affects Our Emotional Health
It affects our emotional health for sure. If you were to look at this story as just one example, hopefully it is obvious – there is more joy in giving than in receiving, especially when it’s given according to God’s will. There is also tremendous peace when we are living within our budgets. And not over-spending on the frivolous, unnecessary, excessive material things the world tells us we have to have, there is a peace that “passes all understanding.” That’s not to say we can’t or shouldn’t give gifts to others, but give something meaningful, and within your budget. Don’t put your emotions into debt this Christmas!
How Our Spending Affects Our Mental Health
When we spend our money — no matter the time of year – and our time and all of our other resources, according to God’s will and purpose, it will always have a tremendous, positive impact on our mental health. When we are walking out our purpose according to His will for our lives, it can’t help but have a positive impact on our mental health.
How Our Spending Affects Our Physical Health
When we are chronically trying to fit 28 hours into a 24-hour day to pay for all the “stuff” we just bought on credit, that causes tremendous stress to our physical bodies in a multitude of ways. First of all, we most likely aren’t sleeping well if we are financially living above our means. Any kind of stress whether it be mental/emotional, physical or chemical, absolutely has a direct negative impact on our physical health. If we are spending more than we have, then those we are giving to truly don’t need what we want to give them. They need what God is telling us to give. And that will always be within our means. To learn more about these stressors pick up a copy of my book “Are You Being Deceived About True Wellness” where I go into great detail about how stress is silently killing us. Over spending is no exception to this stress.
I hope this brings some clarity into just one of the many ways – in the area of our spending for one – that we can address to help maintain the health of our soul through the holidays. And hopefully, you have a greater appreciation that our budget and our spending don’t just affect our mental health, but it influences our health as a whole – wholistically – mental, emotional, physical and most of all spiritual.
As we move quickly into these last few weeks before Christmas, I pray that you keep Christ in the center of all that you do to celebrate His birthday.
To book Dr. Jackie for speaking engagements go to: https://jackiemckool.com/schedule-jackie/