One of my childhood friends inspired this post. This morning she issued a challenge for all her family and friends for the rest of the holiday season and beyond. Most of this post is what I wrote her in response to her challenge. The challenge was to extend love and grace to everybody no matter the choices they make. In other words, less shame and judgement in favor of more love and grace. I love her challenge, but I explained I wanted to add my own twist. Then I told her I wanted to share it with all of you. Thankfully, she agreed.
My added two cents: we should find and celebrate joy wherever we can. Dana (the friend that inspired this post) and I have had our difficulties with each other over the years. However, I like the women we are becoming and will continue to grow into. There is a mutual respect and understanding of each other that we worked for and really dug to get. It took a long time and a few heartfelt conversations and apologies to get where we are, now.
Dana: I am proud of you and me and us. Thank you for inspiring me today and giving me what you could not know I needed desperately: permission to celebrate the birthday of Jesus however I need to. It is hopeful, light, dark, and messy this year. That is okay because God and Jesus can manage all of it. I am more myself than I have ever been, and still feel like I have no clue what I am doing at all…simultaneously.
The reason I wanted to share our combined challenge with you all is because I felt led to. I have learned to not ignore what I feel led to post as far as content. I know someone else or a lot of someone else’s’ need permission to celebrate the holiday anyway they find necessary. Consider this permission. The God I serve can manage all the feelings we feel and those can become part of the celebration and worship.
Here is why that is true: Jesus was born in a Manger in a stable. He was not born in a castle or any kind of luxury. He gave it all up to come meet us where we are and then paid the ultimate price to make sure that we did not have to. If I believe that and I do, then Jesus can manage anything any of us feel. I need to tell you all that after the hardest year of my life, personally, I feel an awful lot.
In those feelings, I find my faith. I find grace, growth, and lessons. Love is always there because I feel most unlovable in the feelings, I felt this year. What God and Jesus remind me repeatedly is that could not be further from the truth. I am so loved, and I am doing better than I think. I just want to share these truths in case you all need the reminders as much as I do.