With the onset of the Christmas season, we revive our dearest holiday memories and they bring tremendous joy and cheer to our hearts. My favorites are days off from school with Christmas songs blaring “Joy to the World”, baking Christmas cookies with my mother and sisters. We used to make “whoopie pies”! Do you know what whoopie pies are? If so, I want you to comment below. I have run across few who do know so it will be exciting for me to know if you do. And when you comment, describe in delicious detail what they are so all can partake of their yumminess. Another favorite was to watch my dad hang lights on the windows and having to cover my ears when his frustration would bellow obscenities. Christmas is a magical, spiritual time of wonder and awe; and can arouse our deepest joys.
But, for some, it can awaken deep sorrows. Bringing with it the recollection of what was/is good in our families and also, what was or currently is painful. In all of life, we experience the pain and the sorrow of our experiences but Christmas and holidays can be an exceptional time of feeling them both, very intensely.
Whether in the throes of Christmas and other holidays or the mundane of everyday life, these memories can be mingled together so much that you can’t experience the joy without the sorrow butting in. I’ve tried, laboriously, my entire life to divide the two to no avail. But I’ve learned that as the two co-exist in the same space, we can choose how much power we give to either. Sadly, over the years, I’d given too much power to sorrow while joy became more and more elusive.
The last year of my life has been a difficult one, emotionally. In allowing many sorrows to consume me, I lost myself. A broken spirit, losing sight of hope and God. Much of this even evidenced in my writing here or on my podcast.
Determined to find my footing, contending for joy yet in despair many times, I was void of understanding and insight to what God was trying to accomplish in my life. And with that despair, indifference and finally becoming numb to anything; joy, sorrow, vision, purpose. Just numb.
To feel or not to feel, that has been the question for me. And I chose the latter because to feel was just not on my radar. And for a poetic, creative type like me, numb is the death of my art! The death of my creativity and purpose! The death of me! And so it seemed and many times felt, like death.
Oh, there have been many tears and heartfelt pain. But it was more about chasing it away than it was accepting or dealing with it.
As a result, in recent months I stopped writing and podcasting because I didn’t want to spew poison on everyone. In my effort to bring encouragement, I didn’t want to bring a dark cloud of pessimism. Hiding. Cautious. But today, I resume my loves in an effort to live wide open. In compliance with what I’m always preaching to you!
God is carrying my sorrows as He always has and I’m learning to purge them and say goodbye to them. At first suggestion, this seems a joyous endeavor, but the more I think about saying goodbye to the sorrow, a deep pain arises as it feels as if I am saying goodbye to part of my identity and how I’ve always seen myself. I shudder to admit that for fear of religious disdain. But it is true.
Saying goodbye to sorrow and bad memories is like letting go of my soul and all the experiences that make me, me! You would think with joy awaiting, it would be easy, but it’s such a complex process that I am not prepared for, but to lay hold of joy, must embark on. Our joys and sorrows must be integrated into our entire life experience because they are BOTH part of who we are and have been.
I compare it to the process of separating conjoined twins in a story I read about Ben Carson separating conjoined twins at the head. The surgery involved cutting apart bone, tissue and deconstructing and reconstruction veins, stopping their hearts, etc. It was a dreadful, but successful risk that required delicacy and precision. They had to cut away what was damaging them (being conjoined) without harm to either and liberating them both alive! To bring about the release of two viable, living beings!
This is not a plug for Ben Carson, although I recommend you read anything he’s ever written, but it’s a description of what it means for us all to live a life of integrity with our sorrows and joys. Living and being alive consists of both. Not separately, but weaved in and out of each other, making up the totality of who we are. Delicate emotional/mental veins, if you will, that join them together into one life. To say goodbye to our sorrows and past is daunting which is why few succeed at doing it.
There are states of mind, soul and spirit experts call ” acceptance” & “resolve” that we choose in order to live with whatever truth our lives represent without driving us mad or causing duplicity. We must reconcile the whole of life.
And although acceptance is a powerful practice, one which I endeavor to follow, there is a more sure Word of healing. For God has said, “cast your cares on Me”, “do not worry”, “lean not on your own understanding”, “you are a new creation”.
There are songs and stories in my heart that need to be sung and told, and they will. But beware, they will not be plastic and conforming. With a heart like David, I declare my sorrows as loud as my triumphs. My praise as boisterous as my tears. Ruminating the questions as deep as the understanding the Lord gives me. Both are valid and relevant to God and the story He is writing in and with my life. In all our lives.
To deny them is to deny myself and the God who made me.
So today, I start a new journal, one of acceptance and “goodbye”. One of connection and letting go. One of embracing, without shame, the totality of my experiences while releasing the sorrow that has come with it. Finding joy in the perfection of which God has orchestrated my life and trust, with all my heart, that all things work together for my good!
Let Christ be Glorified in All,