December 23, 2009
One of the greatest times of year for a child is Christmas, but everyone knows that. Presents and family are closely linked in the chaos, stress, and joy that comes from eating food, and opening gifts and being the one to give them. One thing that makes this holiday season so different for me, is that I have people to share my joy with.
I have always been surrounded by massive amounts of family, but I never really sat back to enjoy the beautiful chaos that ultimately made my family function. Instead, I spent large amounts of my time streesing about money and presents and fair distribution of said money and presents. Then I moved on to obsessing about the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) reprimands flowing from one family member to another. Sure, I was grateful for the gifts and happy to see my relatives, but the schedule and the stress removed much of the joy from the holidays for me.
This year, so many things are different for me, and I alreaady notice a difference in the way the holidays are taking shape. First of all, my sister and I are possibly closer than ever. She has always been sort of my shield, my sister, my best friend but now she is also my confidante. Through my relationship with God, my realtionship with the person I always thought I couldn’t get any closer to. Because I know I can talk to her about God, about my fears and failures, about my growth and experiences with the Bible, our relationship has changed.
I am hoping it works with everyone else.
I haven’t been open with them in years because I was a mess. One thing that changed me this year, though, was the realization that I didn’t have to be put together to be useful to God. I feel the same way about my family, now. I don’t think I have to be perfect to be accepted.
I am hoping that my new certainty, my new faith, my new…everything will be evident. I am also hoping that I am different enough to be loving and caring and open with my entire family in a way that I never have been before. I will be praying for the courage to open my heart to those who I love, and who love me the most.
Here’s to waking up a different person thanks to the grace of God.
December 8, 2009
There are old adages about passing storms in life. Lately it has been hurricane season, and apparently I am New Orleans. Winds and rain are tossing me back and forth and shake me—but not to the core. Last week, I finally felt like I hit bottom, but it was an odd “bottom.”
I have hit bottom before and basically became a non-functioning droid. My last lowest-point involved an awful lot of sleeping, hardly any speaking, and absolutely no socializing. This time, I still feel like I can breathe. I may have days full of uncertainty, and occasionally I teeter between faith in people and fear for all of humanity. But my heart is not left to sit on the floor, waiting to be stomped on all over again.
So, what is the peace that pervades my mind these days?
What, in fact, is peace at all?
With help from my pastor, I have nailed down a working definition of peace and thereby realized why reaching bottom is bringing new hope into my life.
I believe that, just like love, peace is not a feeling: It is a choice. Love involves continued work. Peace requires continual surrender.
It is the choice to take all the cares and worries that most people think should be keeping me up at night and laying them at God’s feet, to listen for His next step, and to go with His understanding.
Peace is a gift from God that we must choose to accept. When we choose Him, we choose the spirit of peace that was in Christ. The peace Jesus possessed allowed Him to sleep soundly through a raging storm. It was a peace that eventually lead Him to give up His own life because He understood the overarching goal of salvation was more critical than His life.
The decision to walk with God, the decision to walk with Jesus, is a decision to surrender our own nature to His. By relinquishing control of the willful, scared, defensive, angry, independent nature within me, I have been able to accept the help of God’s spirit.
It is this spirit that has made “bottom” feel like a starting place instead of a death sentence by giving me hope that it will all work out for the good of God and those that love Him. (Me!!)
My pastor wisely said that “sometimes in the dark season, we forget what God said, what He promised. Then, the Holy Spirit is our helper, our reminder of the promises.”
Peace is a choice. It is surrender. It is being able to define peace, knowing who gave it, and believing that it is actually accessible.
Peace is mine.