Today, many people are celebrating Christmas. If you ask any one person, you may get a different response to “why do you celebrate Christmas?” If you ask me I will tell you it is because I believe that Jesus Christ was born, and I celebrate His birth on this day. Others may celebrate because it is a time to gather with family and loved ones to rejoice in the closeout of another year. Still others may not celebrate the day itself, but acknowledge that there is something special about this time of year. Whatever the case, somehow, we all end up giving gifts to others, both tangible and intangible. This year, as Christmas quickly approached, I began to think of all of the gifts I wanted to get for others. My heart overflowed with ideas and plans to make others smile, and I began to get caught up in all that I could do for everyone else. I have always been a giver. It has always brought me immense pleasure to see others happy. Why should Christmas be any different? Yes, gift giving is something traditions brought on, but something I enjoy doing all the same. Somewhere along the way, I realized that with all that I planned to do for others, I had not once stopped to think about what I would do for myself. When I did think about it, I considered going on a mini shopping spree, but I realized that the satisfaction from that would only last for a moment. I considered taking myself to get a facial or manicure, which I may still do, but that would not be enough. Then I focused on the more intangible things I needed. Hope. Peace. Joy. Forgiveness. Newness. Words easily spoken, but hard to realize. Three years ago, not long before Christmas, I did something that robbed me of all of those things. I lost hope that things would ever get better for me. I was tormented by what occurred. I lost my smile, replaced by a mask resembling what once was. I forgot how to forgive myself, and I thought I could never be new again. Since then, I have pretended, somewhat convincingly, that all of that I have gained back. In some ways I had gotten some of that back, but not to the full extent. When thinking about what I wanted for Christmas, I realized that “some” was not enough, and I wanted everything back that I originally lost, plus more. I finally understood that to get everything back, I first had to forgive myself for what was. To still live in what was, but try to move forward into what is to be, creates a battle within that only continues to tear apart. So, first step, forgiveness. From there everything else is a choice. I can choose to hope again, and know that what does not kill me really does make me stronger. Things can and will change. I can have peace knowing that what is done is over, and my heart is in a new place. I can keep that peace by ensuring that I never go back to that place again. I can have joy in the midst of knowing that I am forgiven, and knowing that I can start life from wherever I choose. The first thing is to make that choice. All of this is a gift that only I could give myself. Tangible things are nice. Give to others. Make someone else happy. Always remember that the best gift sometimes is a gift that only you can give to yourself. Live again.
In today’s society, it’s normal for us to want the next best thing. We see something new, and we just have to have it. In relationships we stick around until things seem to get stale, then when it is no longer the honeymoon we move on to someone more adventurous or appealing-at the moment. A few weeks ago, I was doing something that I do everyday. I was applying lotion. One of my lotion bottles was running out, and instead of squeezing out the last bit of lotion in the bottle, I started to throw away the bottle so that I could use a new lotion that I just bought. As my hand motioned to throw the bottle away, I thought about how easy it was to throw something away without using it all up. Funny time to have an epiphany, but it happens. I thought about times in my life when I’ve wanted to move forward from relationships all because things were stagnant. Looking for new and better got me in a lot of trouble, especially with myself. It had gotten to a point where I felt that I had nothing more to give. Like my lotion bottle,I felt all used up. Instead of shaking things up and finding the rest of me, I started to gravitate towards those things outside of me. I started to be like everyone else, and try to take on certain actions that were reminiscent of me, but not really me. It was easy to look outside of myself to create who I was, but the entire time I had everything I needed already inside me. Once I realized this, I then renewed my pledge to myself to pour out all that is in me so when it is my time to pass on, it will be said that I used up all that is in me. That lotion bottle that I thought was empty only had to be shaken up and turned upside down. When I tipped it over, I found that there was more left in it than I originally thought. It took some turning and shaking, but I found what was left in me. One day the bottle may run out, but what is in us will only run out if we let it. I will live a life all poured out, and I will not allow new and different to rob me of being the essential me. What will you do?