“Arise, shine: For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you…”. Isaiah 60:1
Christmas is a difficult time of year for me. It’s a time where I can forget to shine, and let my light grow dim. Not because I’m a Grinch, but because of memories of Christmas’s past. You know that experiences in our lives can shape how we view the world around us. Those memories can fill our hearts with images of warm sweet cookies coming out of the oven with the amazing aroma dancing its way through our home, or they can be sour…like drinking orange juice after eating maple syrup. Yep! I know you can relate.
Christmas for me as always been a time in a life, because of my relationship with my Dad, that provided sour memories. My mind even now remembers him drunk, yelling at me because of the ornaments weren’t in the right places on the tree, or because I didn’t wrap a present perfectly. Growing up Christmas was about stress, worry, fear, and guilt. It was about Momma and me trying to keep Dad’s mouth under wraps, and fearing for our lives as he would drive us to and from family and friends homes. For many years…too many years, I allowed those experiences to sour my Christmas memories with my own family. Last year, it all changed. By a beautiful gift directly from God, my Christmas memories would change forever. You can have that gift too!
Wondering what it is? What is the key to all of the sour memories being behind a woman who has lived nearly all of her life emotionally abused? You can’t buy it, or download it. You can’t bake it or borrow it. It can only come directly from God, and you have to be willing to receive it. The gift is Forgiveness.
Bitterness, anger and hurt can be all-consuming. Take it from a girl who knows. I was carrying all of the baggage around with me, and sister, it is heavy stuff! It was weighing me down, and the longer I carried it, the bigger it seemed to become. I can already hear you saying, “How on earth can she forgive someone who treated her so badly?” Only through the love and mercy of our great God dear sister. Only through Him.
I wanted to desperately to stay angry, to continue to live in the hurts of the past, and to want to see Dad suffer for what he did to me. He made me feel worthless, small, stupid, and unwanted. Oh, and sister, I carried all of the baggage around with me too. The not being good enough EVER, and the not being worthy…yep those awful labels were ruling my life, and they were ruining my Christmases. All of that changed when I allowed God to speak to my heart.
There I was, reading Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Sister, read it again! Read it out loud, and then in the name of Jesus…claim that scripture! Suddenly God broke open my heart filled with bitterness, anger, hurt, and feelings of worthlessness. His truth washed over me like a raging river…God loves me! Not only does He love me, His love for me is great. He is rich in mercy, and through Christ Jesus, He made me alive. Y’all, even when I felt dead inside, God’s mighty love for me mercifully resurrected my soul. It is by His mighty grace I have been saved! He loves me! Woohooo!! Do I hear an Amen?
Sister, when I claimed that scripture as truth. When I made that scripture mine, God washed away that horrible, sour baggage I had been carrying around, and He replaced it with Joy! Yes, Joy! At that moment, I realized that I could no longer stay angry and bitter with Dad. His behavior is his choice. From that day forward, I chose to live in joy! You can too. No, it’s not easy. No, I’m not perfect about leaving the past in the past. Yes, sometimes Dad still really ticks me off! Just being real y’all. When those times come, I remind myself that I am a daughter of Almighty God! He is crazy for me, and through Him, I am saved. Never again will I need to fear. No longer will I live in feelings of worthlessness and being unworthy. Because Jesus is my Savior, I am worthy of His love! How do I know? Because He told me so in God’s Holy Word!
Isaiah 60:1 says, “Arise, shine for your light has come!” No longer will I hide behind what my life once was. No! I choose to stand up and shine! I choose to embrace those sour lemons and use them to make sweet cookies! For Christ Jesus has come. Y’all, He is ALIVE and He IS the Light of the World!
Dear sister, are you struggling tonight with worry about setting the perfect table, or buying the perfect gift? Worried about family drama at upcoming events. Fear and worry are not from God. Get those worries out of your pretty head! The enemy uses them as weapons against us…weapons to keep us apart from God. Sister, it’s time to suit up! Put on the FULL armor of God, and claim His mighty love for you as enough. You don’t have to be enough when you have Christ as your Savior. He is enough for both of you!
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11