When you think about your childhood Christmases what memories come to mind?
What FEELINGS are triggered?
For me it was our TRADITIONS. The things I came to expect because we did them year after year.
Looking back I realize how fortunate I was.
I may have grown up in a modest 1250 sq. ft. home, but the one thing my parents did that I have tried to continue for my children is the way they safeguarded Christmas for us.
We never left the house.
My grandma would come over on Christmas Eve, arms loaded with tins of her homemade cookies and black garbage sacks full of perfectly wrapped packages.
I can still remember the thrill of scanning the tags for my name as we helped her put them under the tree.
I was always the last one to sleep and the first one up on Christmas morning.
The anticipation of what was to come stronger than a double espresso..
I can remember a few favorite gifts that stand out in my memories like my Holly Hobby Doll, the Rock em Sock em Robots, and the special goodies my dad, I mean Santa, always filled our stockings with.
But that’s not what I think about when I reflect on Christmas past..
It was the FEELINGS I had about it that made it special.
FEELINGS that came from routines; a knowing of what was to come, sameness…
and just BEING in that little house together.
Feelings can make all the difference…
That’s why there can be 2 very different responses to children who go to have their pictures made with Santa.
Totally different experiences.
One kicking and screaming and OVERWHELMED by anxiety.
The guy in the red suit is not what brought JOY to the first child.
He was not what caused the second child’s anxiety.
It was the FEELING the child had about seeing Santa that made the difference.
Something about that red suit or that situation triggered 2 very different feelings.
The more we become aware of the trigger, we can learn to better manage the feelings that shift us from WELL to OVERWHELMED.
YOUR trigger might be..
- The screaming overwhelmed child.
- The ideal Santa picture not going as you hoped.
- The long line you see when you arrive
- Getting overheated in your heavy coat you wish you’d left in the car
Or maybe it’s a little heavier than that..
- Fear of traditions that will not be this year
- Change and uncertainty everywhere you look
- The nagging pain that won’t go away
- The illness that is stealing your energy
- People that threaten your sanity
- The Lack you see every time you check your bank balance
- The thought of obligations and commitments you wish you could get out of
As Christians we call the place where our feelings reside the soul.
Anyone grow up singing ,”I have JOY, JOY, JOY down deep in my soul. Where? Down in my soul to stay”?
We want that JOY to stay put like the song promises.
But try as we might, we find it fleeting.
That is because feelings shift.
Feelings are not stationary or fixed.
But wait a minute…
If Christ is our JOY, and HE is unchanging then shouldn’t my JOY be unchanging?
Isn’t he the author of my JOY? The giver of it?
What if I pray and ask him for more of it every day but I still can’t grasp it?
Is it because He is not answering my prayers?
Is it because I have sin in my heart that is blocking me from experiencing it?
Here is what I have learned..
Our feelings are dynamic, ever changing, and because of that they are not dependable.
We are human, and we will FEEL the whole spectrum of emotions; the good, the bad, and the ugly. If the circumstance is crappy , it is natural to feel bad about it.
But there is a difference between feeling bad and allowing that feeling to be your DICTATOR. To Boss you around and steal your JOY.
We may not be able to change our current circumstances , but our feelings ABOUT THEM… those can be changed.
When I looked up the definition of JOY I found words like “transported,” “seventh heaven,” “rapture.”
It’s like being in a circumstance that sucks, but learning how to transport your mind and your soul to a realm where it doesn’t get to suck the life out of you.
We have the ability through our MIND and our SPIRIT to be raptured out of it.
How cool is that?
Here is what we need to remember when the triggers start to take us down that well worn path that leads to despair and overwhelm..
Look at that path and decide to go a different way.
Choose to say NO to the trigger.
Say ” I see you. Yes that sucks. But I am not going to let it take anymore of my energy that it already does. It can not have what mental, emotional, and physical capacity I have left. ”
“Today, I am going to SAFEGUARD my mind.”
” It may control what is on the outside but it has to have my permission to control my insides.”
I AM NOT GIVING IT PERMISSION TODAY.
I am the boss of my mind and I am TAKING BACK my CHRISTMAS.
I AM TAKING BACK my JOY.
Colossians 3:2 reminds us to SET OUR MINDS on things above, not on earthly things.
The Message translation describes this as living the RESURRECTION life, in other words, a life “transported” and” raptured” from the things of this earth.
It reminds us to shift our perspective by looking up instead of becoming ABSORBED.
Have you ever allowed your external circumstances to ABSORB you, or fully engage you to the point of captivity?
Are you sick and tired and ready to just BE WELL? TO FEEL JOYFUL?
Here is your SECRET today to shifting from overwhelm to wellness during the Holidays:
JOY is the FEELING that comes when we SAFEGUARD our minds by setting them up HIGH.
We have to treat our minds with the same care we would a fine china plate that we set high on a shelf, away from people and things that can harm it.
God placed a hard skull around his design to protect it, but when we allow our thoughts a free pass to steer us on a destructive path, that’s on us.
Joy is a gift our creator wired us to experience and we have the capacity to FEEL exceedingly joyful when we decide that is what we want to experience.
Praying you have a very JOY filled Christmas!!