FORT BENNING, Ga. (Nov. 30, 2018) -- In this week's Chaplain's Corner, Chaplain (Capt.) Christy Marshall, chaplain for 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry Regiment, draws focus to what truly matters in life during the holiday season.

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Sometime in mid-September, my husband sent me a picture from a store in town. Fall was still a week away from officially starting, and yet this particular store had already put out a Christmas section. An entire aisle was already present -- filled with decorations, wrapping paper, wreaths and much more. At that point, Halloween was more than a month away with Thanksgiving nowhere in sight! I will never understand why stores race to be the first one to put out their Christmas merchandise. After all, Christmas is to going to arrive on the same date as previous years, and the same majority of people are going to wait until the last minute to find gifts for their friends and families.

Something I do understand, however, is just how stressful the end of the year holiday season is for most families. There is the negotiating of when/where/how/to which side of family to travel. For some, there is the stress of spending important holidays separated from their deployed spouse. For others, there is the stress of grieving family members or friends who have passed and whose chair will be empty this holiday season. Lastly, there is the stress of dealing with all the busyness and from distractions that tend to ramp up toward Thanksgiving and not decrescendo until after New Year's Day.

Even so, I believe that the upcoming holidays are an opportunity and a gift. In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul reminded his readers to keep their focus on the important things in life:

"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you." -- Philippians 4:8, New Revised Standard Version

In essence, Paul was calling on his audience to focus the good things in this world -- the relationships, blessings and actions worthy of receiving of our attention -- in contrast to placing all of our attention on aspects of life out of our control or inconsequential in the long run.

As we enter the upcoming holiday season, I believe that it is beneficial to follow this bit of wisdom offered by Paul. May we keep our hearts and minds focused on our important relationships, the blessings we have in our lives, and our ability to be a blessing to another in need. Lastly, may the peace of the Almighty One be upon you and your Family in the days ahead.