Happy holidays to all of my amazing readers out there! Whether you live in Arizona like I do, and have to “will” the feelings of the holiday into your heart (ie. go to every single holiday event since there is no snow to make it feel as such), or whether you cannot walk out your door without shoveling snow, I hope you have already had some very special moments this month.
‘Happy’ and holidays, for some people, may not go together as much as they do for others. I feel extremely blessed that I still have all of my immediate family members alive and in good health, but I know that is not the case for so many of you out there. For every special memory of this season, this time of the year now may exacerbate the hole in your heart of a loved one lost. My heart goes out to you, and I hope you feel loved and seen through the toughest of these days.
There is another type of ‘trigger’ I notice gets highlighted around the holidays. This one is not of missing a person, but rather, the grief of unfulfilled expectations. The holidays bring a lot of time of reflection. Often times, as we reflect, we think a lot about what we have or where we are in our lives. Sometimes, this reflection comes with the thoughts and feelings of where we THOUGHT our lives would/should be. Here’s an example: When I was 20, if you had asked me where I thought I would be by 30 years old, it would probably not look like where I am at now. Honestly, probably not even close. I probably would have said that I would be married with one, maybe two children by now, and living back home in Nebraska. That would have been a wonderful life, I’m sure. But honestly? In my beliefs, I am absolutely positive that God had a better plan for me than I could have EVER had for myself.
I have learned a huge life lesson this year. Honestly, a life-altering lesson about ‘expectations.’ Have you heard the famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy”? Well, it is not just the comparison of our lives to someone else’s. Have you noticed that we so often, subconsciously, compare our lives to the EXPECTATION we had of our lives? Therein lies the thief of joy!! When I let my mind get lost in the expectations of what I thought my life would be like, I miss the massive abundance of blessings I have right in front of me. I am blessed with an abundance of things I do not deserve, but when I focus my mind and heart on those things, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. The emotional human I am can literally cry when I think about how beautiful of a life I have been blessed with. This mindset and heart posture helps me to be grateful for every moment of every single day.
I have one final lesson that I learned this year; one that was learned through some incredible counseling. It is absolutely, 100% okay to feel things you are afraid to feel. I was quite literally afraid to feel sad, or frustrated, or anything else I perceived as a “negative” emotion. I was afraid that if I let myself feel those things at all, that I would suddenly turn into a negative Nancy forever. I could not have been more wrong! What I did was suppress those emotions, rather than feel them and work THROUGH them. The problem? Then they were always there. They never reared their heads, but I was having to use energy daily to suppress them. In counseling, I had a very safe space to share it all (ie. I was not putting excessive emotional burden on people close to me). I faced them and worked through them. This gave me the ability to move forward, no longer burdened by the things I was so afraid of. Since then, I have had a time when a situation made me extremely sad. My normal self would have immediately suppressed that sadness and carried it underneath all of my positivity for likely months. But instead, I heard this voice in my head and heart say, “It’s okay to feel sad. That does NOT mean you have lost hope.” Mic drop. I LOST it. I cried for hours and hours and hours, and even days. But I had no idea how much I needed that. Because the burden of that sadness I finally let out, worked through, and was able to take on the coming days with a heart that was now healing, rather than still an open wound.
Oh how I wish this type of growth for all of you! Your life and your journey is likely greatly different than mine. But my hope for you, is that you are not afraid to hold a mirror up to yourself. To see, face, and work through the hardest of all of the things, because that WORK makes room for the most beautiful of things to come!! Ones that you may have completely missed because of the things that you are afraid to face. All things that are SO worth it take time, coupled with patience, and work. I believe that with all of my heart, because it has proven itself to be true time and time again.
I love you, friends. I hope that in some way these words reach your heart and at the very least, plant a seed of thought or reflection that could bless your lives.
In true holiday fashion, I am being extremely intentional with my time and “presence.” You may not see as many blog posts around this time of year, but it is because I am filling my cup up so that I have an abundance to share with you in the months to come!
No matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you – YOU are loved. You are enough. Every single day, exactly as you are.
Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to you all!