Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and such an important one; it’s almost like hitting a reset button for my life. Not in terms of “Oh it’s a new year, let’s make it one to remember, here’s my list of resolutions and goals!” but in the way where we’re celebrating Jesus’ birth and I feel almost as if I, too, have been reborn. I’m reminded about and made aware of what I have and what I want and all of the peace and joy and love surrounding me lifts me up and I become inspired to keep those elements present in my daily life.
Christmas is the time when my faith is the strongest, which seems obvious, but it’s sitting in my room listening to Christmas music, or seeing a homeless mother with her children in the cold on the street, or walking outside with the cold in my lungs when my Spirit is most alive. Grams gave me a Grace Notes journal a long time ago, and I use it as a prayer journal. I only write in it every once in a blue moon, and when I feel the need to do so the little stories on each page always have to do with what I’m dealing with at the time. Incredible, really. Here is what struck me from today’s, which talked about the different Voices of God: “That last Voice [referring to the Spirit] is as close as breath, as gentle as a whisper. It is the most vulnerable voice of all, and the easiest to ignore. The Bible says the Spirit can be ‘quenched’ or ‘grieved.’ Yet the Spirit is also the most intimate Voice.” It then gives us this Bible verse which I looked up and highlighted:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
That verse epitomizes my relationship with God. Most often my prayers are crazy gestures or incoherent sounds directed to empty space because I can’t form sentences that properly express what I’m thinking or feeling. I just simply trust that he knows what I’m asking and what I need better than I do and leave it at that.
I also opened the devotion book my mom gave me and it applied so well not only to my relationship with God, but also to life in general:
“Rules can be observed mechanically. Once they become habitual, they can be followed with minimal effort and almost no thought. These habit-forming rules provide a false sense of security, lulling the soul into a comatose condition.”
A comatose condition. How terrifying does that sound? And yet I understand exactly what it’s saying. As an empath I am very vulnerable to the emotions of those around me, particularly despair. I’ve always loved being a wonderful listener and a shoulder to cry on. But sometimes when I start to hit overload, or the incoming grievances become repetitive, my responses become mechanical, habitual, practiced, often as a defense mechanism. Some who know me really well are able to identify when I’ve hit this point. I’ve always been conscious of needing to be careful not to let this become the norm. Not to let my empathy turn to apathy. I’ve had days of absolute apathy and it was as if my soul was comatose. I am so grateful for this devotion because I have no better way to express what it felt like. Around Christmastime I’m reminded that my soul and spirit are alive and that I have nothing to worry about. When I start to get overloaded I simply have to let the Spirit call to God and He will lift the weight from me.
This devotion also puts into words why I have “project mentality.” I don’t do well with routine. I consistently need new projects, and need them to be changing. Once they become the norm of my life I stop caring. Whether it’s a new combat fight to learn, or a new show to be a part of for a month or two, or a new volunteer opportunity, that’s what’s exciting to me. That’s what keeps me alive and vibrant. If they become regular and I can no longer call them projects I become apathetic toward them, which is a sensation I usually avoid like the plague.
Christmas is also a time for family and for healing, and today is my annual Christmas Movie Marathon Day! Starting the morning off with Little Drummer Boy, followed by A Charlie Brown Christmas, followed by the Snow Queen, and now about to pop in The Grinch (the animated version, thank you very much), my heart is so incredibly full. It’s full of sadness at how commercial this wonderful holiday season is. It’s full of longing for my family, for my church, for my cats, and for the days when life was simpler. But then it’s full of joy and love and my insides ache with the need to give and to express to the people in my life exactly what they mean to me. I’ve always loved being alone from time to time, and still do, but lately I’ve been realizing that it’s the people in my life who make it what it is. I need these special people in my life; these families are what help keep me strong, grounded, and hopeful, believing in silver linings. As the year continues on I know that sooner than I like the time will come when we all will go our separate ways, and my heart hurts thinking about it, but then is calmed knowing that they will still be family and today’s technology allows us to remain involved in each others’ lives.
This morning I got texts from my mom and from the worship director at my church. They were listening to the Christmas album my sister and I recorded before today’s service, and it made me miss home so desperately, especially knowing I won’t be home for Christmas. My parents will come to Chicago to spend the holiday with me, but its not the same. It will be my first Christmas without Minnesota, without extended family, and without my sister. “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” has never struck such a chord with me. Not until this year did I know how important my family is to me (all of my families). They are such a prominent part of my life and I intend to keep it that way, and there is no better time for that to begin than this Christmas.
Find out when your Spirit is most alive. It’s time for your soul to wake up. Figure out what is most important to you and hold onto it. Fight for it. Live it. Christmas is a time for gifts – give your family the gift of love, give your friends the gift of comfort and inspiration, and give yourself the gift of hope. Christmas is a time for miracles to plant their seeds. Open your hearts to it.