Love is Christmas

“Love is who we are, and no season could contain it. Love would never fall for that.
Let Love lead us, Love is Christmas.” – Sara Bareilles

My favorite quote from A Christmas Carol (one of my favorite Christmas movies) is: “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”– The Genius Charles Dickens.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. And I know I’m not alone in this. I think we all love Christmas because it’s become more than just a day, a season or a reason to buy things. Christmas represents an emotion, a feeling, a belief. During a cold season, the idea of the warmth of things such as love, generosity, compassion on those in need stirs in us a passion to prioritize our lives. To make the things that matter, matter. To reach for a higher potential in the relational areas of our lives than perhaps we do all the year round.

Things like love, cheer, joy, peace all make their way to the forefront during this season. They are the stars of the Christmas pageant of our society. It all of a sudden becomes popular to be generous, give to charities, give to others, make amends with people we haven’t spoken to for a while, find the courage to express our feelings and our love for others. But then it seems that once the season ends, we wrap all of those things up like we do the ornaments on January 2nd and put them in boxes in our garage until next year. We start focusing on the things that don’t matter as much and worrying about our jobs, our appearance, our status in the world. And we wonder, what happened to Christmas?

This song by Sara B. is so beautiful to me in many ways. It speaks to the heart of Christmas, which is Love. And Love is a person who embodies the reason we celebrate. He was born in a manger and His name is Jesus and although this world has tried to remove Him from His own birthday (X-mas?) and tried to make us forget by saying that the things we feel during Christmas are “only Christmas feelings” and things we can only feel from December 1-December 25. Jesus has come so that we can have life “abundantly” All of life. Whether it be 365 days we are alive for 365,365 days. Every day can be Christmas because Jesus is the reason for the season but He cannot be contained in a season.

He is Love. And the reason we forget all of the things we love about Christmas once the new year rolls around is because we forget Him. And the reason He came. We can never know all of the beautiful things He brings without knowing Him for more than a little story we tell to kids in a Sunday School class. If you don’t know Jesus, you’re crashing His birthday by celebrating Christmas. You’re getting a little Christmas favor as you leave and some eggnog with cookies but never getting to live in the continual Christmas party of His Love. And you return home with a small and unsatisfying glimpse of a few hours with the advantages of knowing Him, but it does not last.

The only way to feel the Love of Christmas in your heart and keep it all the year round is to know the Reason for this season. And He is Love. Unending, unfailing Love. That cannot be contained by a season, a lifetime, a culture, a world. It is the free gift for everyone this year. Open it, share it with others and your life will be a celebration of Christmas that never ends.

Leave your dishes in the sink. Leave your fear there too.

Leave your dishes in the sink. Leave your fear there too.

You can find a million words, to build a wall of fear. Safe behind that wall, imprisoned here.
Take that someday step today, to who you’re meant to be.
And turn your dreams to plans so you can breathe” – Superchick- This is the Time

Confession: I’m not a fan of Halloween. I know, what’s wrong with me,right? The only thing I actually like about it is that it brings us that much closer to Thanksgiving and then… wait for it…. CHRISTMAS. Nevertheless, Halloween provides the perfect opportunity to do what we therapists do best: analyze human behavior. Surely, some of our finest moments as a human race must have occurred during this lovely holiday in which something mysterious and fascinating MUST be happening in our brain (sugar high?) that convinces us, otherwise rational humans, that it is perfectly normal and acceptable to wear masks of things like zombies, werewolves, etc. or worse, a zombies or werewolves with the weapon that killed them still in stuck in their head and knock on people’s doors expecting to be rewarded for such original fashion statements… So now that you have a beautiful visual in your head, as we watch people make these rational decisions, I can’t help but discover (invent) a deeper meaning to the holiday and what it represents to our society.
And I came to the following conclusion: life is a lot like halloween. And no, not because life is like a box of chocolates (although I completely agree with that statement, that Forrest knows his stuff!) In life, like Halloween, there is always an opportunity to live from a place of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of meaninglessness. And this fear sometimes causes us to wear a mask. We wear masks to hide parts of ourselves that we don’t want people to see. Maybe we wear a mask at work. Maybe we wear a mask with a significant other. Or a social group we are trying to impress. We think, “I can’t show them THAT”, “If they knew, THAT about me, they would… “This is a side of me everyone would think is…”

So instead, of actually embracing those things about ourselves and allowing it to grow our character, we hide them, buried deep down in the closet of our heart.The good and the bad. We hold the weight and spend all our energy trying to be people we’re not out of fear that we can never truly embrace all parts of ourselves and be loved and accepted regardless of what’s underneath the mask.
As a young therapist, I bring a lot of that fear into the therapy room with me. Although, ironically, I thought I was supposed to be “the one who has it together”, I often feel the most afraid, like I need to wear a mask in front of my clients so they don’t find out that… guess what I’M A HUMAN TOO?

Isn’t that the funny thing? In life, like during halloween, we ALL know there is something under the mask. We all know that there are things the next person is hiding and as unwilling to share as we are. And you know what is the funniest thing about it? We assume that the only ugly and scary masks are the ones we wear at Halloween. And only at Halloween are our true selves more beautiful. But the real ugliness is in the life masks. The gossip we engage in so that we fit in. The lie we tell to get us out of an ethical dilemma at work. The pleasantries we engage in at church or in social circles so we don’t have to really be honest about the terrible week we had when someone asks “how are you doing?” So why are we all so afraid? Because fear is a prison. We lock ourselves in our tower walls, and throw away the key. We’d rather stare at walls, and play our parts and recite the lines, than discover the risks and rewards that lay on the other side of those walls. But really, on the other side of that wall is where our dreams live. And if we were watching our lives on the movie screen, we would be screaming at ourselves, at the top of our lungs: “FORGET THE FEAR. JUMP THAT WALL. TURN YOUR DREAMS TO PLANS SO YOU CAN BREATHE.” The movie is only 1 hour and 20 minutes. They’ve got to jump that wall before it’s too late. Your life is only ________. Break down those walls and live your life like someone died for you, today. There’s no better time. This is the time, this is your life.

“What would you try if you had no fear”. Happy Halloween. Here’s to no fear.