It seems like the holidays were easier when I was a kid. As a kid, I was caught up in the wonder and excitement of it all. There were presents under the tree with my name on them. Each one held so much possibility. The expectations on me were minimal. My family would ask questions like, “Are you making good grades? How’s soccer going? Do you have a lot of friends at school?” The answers were easy: “Yep. Soccer’s great. I love my friends.” Then it was over.
Nowadays a couple harmless questions at the family dinner table can feel like the Spanish Inquisition. “How’s the job? How much longer are you going to stay there? Well what about dating? Do you have a boyfriend?”
“The job’s good. It’s paying the bills for right now. Um, a guy asked me out to coffee last month, does that count as a date? Actually I paid for it, so never mind. Nope, no boyfriend… still.” Meanwhile, my thirteen-year-old cousin’s next to me texting his girlfriend, and I have launched into a full-on quarter-life crisis before the mashed potatoes made it around the table. Why don’t I have a boyfriend? Why am I still at that same job? When am I going to start a career? And how did this kid get a girlfriend? He can’t even drive.
We have all these plans, all these pictures in our heads for how life’s going to be and all of a sudden we’re hit with the reality that it didn’t end up that way. I remember sitting under the tree, opening presents as a kid and sometimes feeling disappointed because I didn’t get what I wanted. Life is like that too sometimes. We come in with a blank slate, a whole future of endless possibilities, and then things don’t turn out like we planned. We didn’t end up where we thought we would.
This is where shame starts knocking on the door.
Here’s the thing about shame. It doesn’t play fair. It’s one of the enemy’s favorite tools. His whole job is to ruin things (John 10:10). He will shame you for working too hard. He will shame your for not working hard enough. He will shame you for getting married too young. He will shame you for not getting married young enough. He will shame you for going too far in your past sexually. He will shame you for not going far enough.
“You can either walk inside your story and own it or you can stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”
When you look back on your life, maybe you can’t even figure out how you got where you are now, but it’s okay. Every moment, every chapter leading up to the one you’re in is now apart of your story. Own it. You may not have always had the most perfect of circumstances, but it’s not about having it perfect all the time. It’s about deciding circumstances don’t get to run your life. It’s deciding rain or shine, success or failure, you want to walk in joy, peace, and hope, not hide away in shame, fear and disappointment.
Disappointment is real. I’m not saying it’s not. You don’t have to shove down pain. Let it come up, feel it for a moment, and cry it out if you have to, but don’t stay there. Give the disappointment to God and get your hope back. Get in the Word, and speak out the promises God has over your life until you believe them. Own your story, and then start writing the rest of it. You get to decide how you want the next chapters of your life to unfold.
Our heart for you this Christmas season is that you wouldn’t be naïve to the enemy’s schemes. When the questions from family and friends start coming in, the temptation is to start getting into evaluation mode. The key is to recognize that whispering, evaluating voice, and to not listen to it. The enemy would love nothing more than to ruin the time that is meant for you to rest, recuperate, spend time with family, and celebrate one of the most beautiful gifts we’ve ever been given. Stay ahead of the game and feast on His promises. Keep your standards high, keep dreaming, and keep going after more. We pray abundant blessings over you and your family as you spend time together this Christmas and as you head into the New Year.
ANDREA IS A GRADUATE OF THE SCHOOL OF MINISTRY AT BETHEL AND CURRENTLY SERVES ON THE WRITING TEAM FOR MORAL REVOLUTION. SHE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT SEEING THE CHURCH CARRY JOYFUL HOPE AND EXPECTATION IN EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIVES. SHE LONGS TO SEE THE UPCOMING GENERATION EQUIPPED AS STRONG LEADERS WHO STEWARD THEIR LIVES WELL AND INFLUENCE SOCIETY AS A RESULT.
We wanted to make sure your were cozy and cuddled up with some great stuff this Christmas, so we put together our Cozy Christmas Bundle for you! Check it out: