I LOVE Christmas. Absolutely one of my favorite seasons of the year. I love the decor, the extra time to spend with family and friends, the lights and the childlike wonder that accompanies it.
I contemplated leaving my tree up for a while. Like until March. I wanted to hang onto the experience of Christmas. It hasn’t always been that way, I have had very hard Christmases and understand loads of people do NOT like the holiday season. This season, I got to reflect back on 2014 and soak in every drop of awesomeness that it was.
In 2014 I got to move back to my home state of Kentucky after finishing up a ministry season in Miami and Baltimore, started my book, started recording music, spent amazing times with family, friends old and new and I started to look towards the future with a new excitement. BeLoved is running incredibly with all our state leaders, new church partnerships and our new Exec Director, Sarah Hall. My marriage is as strong as ever. We had the gift of getting a new car along with recording equipment for Christmas this year. My health was cleared, we traveled a ton and I started a new business in honor of my sweet grandmother. I woke up in Nashville on New Years Day with a sunrise that was so stunning a picture couldn’t capture it’s beauty and the promise of a spectacular new season of 2015 beginning.
There were also really hard events in 2014. Two people and former pastors of mine that I love dearly had an affair that ripped apart the seams of their church. Other friends who said they would always be there – disappeared or would only respond to texts with an emoji. I was stolen from, misrepresented, used, verbally abused, gossipped about, and lied about by people who wanted to protect their reputations. I saw the ugliness of entitlement seep out of people who prayed we would fail. (I have forgiven them all and dusted off my sandals.) One of my very best friends in my lifetime died suddenly right before Christmas in Mexico leaving behind a young son.
We all have days we want to remember forever and those we want to forget in a second.
We must live our days though, understanding that we pass through seasons. We aren’t designed to always keep living the same day over and over getting stuck in either the joy or hardship of it. We aren’t designed to stay in a season that we have outgrown or to have the exact same thoughts or do the exact same thing every day. When we get stuck in a cycle, either a good or bad one, things stagnate. They shrink. We have a saying in recovery, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” It’s really the truth. If you want things in your life to change, be more vibrant, get healthy, you name it – something has to change, even if it means letting go of something that looks good, in order to receive something far greater.
I’ve been reading a lot about the first martyr in the bible – Stephen. Acts 7 if you want to look it up. For those of you who don’t know that history, Stephen spoke the truth about Jesus, and in turn was killed. Stoned to death by the religious leaders of the day.
But what happened after that? The tragedy propelled forward a new season. At the beginning of Acts 8, the bible talks about how a great wave of persecution began that day and all the believers scattered. It was how the gospel spread. Everyone had been invested in, had their community they were safe in, and then after this great tragedy, and the persecution that followed, the gospel was able to spread outside of that community. It took a tragedy to break apart the tight group and send them scattered in order to achieve something great.
When things in your life break apart, there is an opportunity to create something better. If something needs to end, and you know it, don’t grip onto it for dear life. Let it go. If there is a season of your life that you have held onto and you need to move forward, make the decision to move forward and put action to it. It could be as challenging as embracing a new reality for your life or as simple as taking down the Christmas decorations.
I looked at my beautiful tree on January 2nd and thanked God for the past season and got REALLY excited about the next. Then, I took it down, knowing this next season is going to hold some hard moments, some amazing moments, and that everyday is a gift.