Faith and the Holiday Season
Regardless of how religious you are or what denomination of faith you follow, there’s something about the holiday season that often encourages a deeper relationship with spirituality. If you’re in recovery from substance abuse, you might be drawn to the ease and goodwill associated with a foundation of faith as you venture into a new way of life. Or maybe you once had a meaningful connection with your spiritual self that was lost during a struggle with drugs or alcohol.
No matter your current situation, there’s a special stillness during the long winter months in the northern hemisphere that often sparks a need for reflection, introspection, and consideration for nurturing spiritual exploration.
Many major belief systems have religious holidays this time of year. Here are just a few, as outlined by the Interfaith Calendar.
- Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrated by people of the Sikh, Hindu, and Jain faiths for a period of five days.
- Mawlid el-Nabi, an Islamic holiday honoring the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.
- The Nativity Fast, observed by Orthodox Christians, which lasts until December 24th.
- Birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Sahib, a Sikh festival in honor of the first guru.
- Bodhi Day, a Buddhist observance celebrating when the Buddha Siddhartha achieved enlightenment.
- Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights lasting eight days that commemorates members of the faith leaving Egypt.
- Yule, a winter solstice celebration primarily among Pagans but also some Christians.
- Christmas, a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
- Gantan-sai, the Japanese Shinto observance of the new year and religious customs that lasts for seven days.
- Twelfth Night, which happens on the last day of the twelve days of Christmas and marks the coming of the Epiphany.
- There are numerous observances and celebrations by other forms of faith during winter, so as we speak of “the holidays,” it’s easy to understand why this time holds so much reverence for people. No matter what religious structure and teachings you’d like to follow, there’s something for you.
How to Reaffirm Your Faith
As much as we could attempt to provide a step-by-step guide, that’s really not the point. To create a stronger faith bond, you start in the soul and radiate outward. But for the sake of example, we’ll share a few techniques used by some Christians to evaluate how faith is important to them and why now is the perfect time of year to enjoy traditions, belonging, and reconnection.
In this article for the Christian Chronicle, author Bailey McBride—a former administrator at Oklahoma Christian University—describes how for some people, faith rises and falls like a tide, and that this has happened to him on more than one occasion. When he has doubt, he “creates a quiet space and time to think about what’s going on…writing out my feelings, concerns, and thoughts.” He then uses particular passages from the Bible to help focus and follows thoughtful prayers—something simple like “Lord, help me believe without question” and “Lord, have mercy on me.” He also seeks the fellowship of other people who believe without question.
Connecting with God During the Holidays
From the Christian Broadcasting Network is this detailed look at how to connect with God during the holidays by Dwight Bain, a counselor, life coach, and family law mediator. He outlines why many people lose faith during the holidays—stress, loneliness, fatigue, for instance—and provides the lifeline to re-enter a devotional stream by following six Cs: celebrate, connect, care, choose, contact, and creator. “Developing a personal relationship with the Christ of Christmas will move you from feeling alone in the world, to being part of something bigger than yourself, and something that will live on forever. When you sense God’s presence, you can feel His peace and power every day.”
Minister Michael B. Brown wrote about restoring faith to the approaching holidays for the Huff Post. He describes how theological celebrations during the holidays remind people of a shared faith, and how it unites us as a society. His view is that too often, certain holiday traditions such as gift-giving, parties, and other aspects make people feel left out and without grounding in faith. His suggestion? “As we approach our holidays (holy days), let’s strive toward renewed faith understandings… and mutual respect… and shared commitments to serving those in need. With those as our foundations, joy and celebration can be experienced and even retained.”
Celebrate Recovery and other 12-Step Programs
Another method for reaffirming faith during the holidays is to expand your participation in 12-Step programs. Not all recovery support groups have a faith component—and many individuals prefer it that way. But Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and similar programs were initially founded with Christian principles, and while some people don’t define their higher power, others want to be more expressive.
If you want a true Christian faith structure, consider joining Celebrate Recovery, a “Christ-centered program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain, or addiction of any kind.” You may find that this holiday season is the catalyst to joining an organization like this that helps you get closer to your spiritual center and reinforces your purpose of recovery.
Willingway’s Anchor of Spirituality
Every inpatient rehabilitation treatment facility has a different philosophy regarding its program features. This is important, because the main goal is to have the resources to design an individual recovery plan tailored to the needs of each person.
Some people may not need a faith-based component as part of their healing process. Others might discover this is the missing link to their complete recovery. At Willingway, we try to provide for all needs so the whole person thrives—mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Learn more about our program features.