By Betsy Stalcup, founder and executive director of Healing Center International
It was another family gathering. Despite my determination to act more grown up, I was barely in the door before someone said something that triggered me. I immediately became obsessed with finding reasons I could blame them for the crummy way I felt. Does every holiday have to be like this? Arggghh! I thought. Not again. I was so sure I was making progress, but I am not acting like myself and I feel hopeless about ever changing.
What can we do when being in familiar places with familiar people takes us back to Junior High behavior? Help yourself to another slice of pie and distract yourself with a movie?
Here is what has helped me.
First, I admit and own that I am where I am without blaming anyone else. I am responsible for taking care of myself. I can say no. I can back off and give myself a breather. I really can.
Second, I immediately turn to God to get his perspective and comfort right where I am. It is even better if I have anticipated potential triggers and turned to God ahead of time.
In my case, I was able to hear God right in the middle of the mess. I could hear him speak to my heart: You are growing and maturing but there is still more that I have for you. Don’t give up. I have you. Let me hold and comfort you. You don’t have to do what they want. You are not helpless. I love you just as you are. Let me hold you. Give me your fear. Let me help you breathe slowly and deeply so you can return to joy. You are not responsible for them. You can speak up and say what you want and need.
Today I want to encourage each one of you to take time before the holiday season begins (ideally before you get triggered!) to let God love you. Get your calendar out now and block out time, then use that time to quiet and ask God what he wants you to know about the upcoming holidays. If you struggle to connect, use this Immanuel video to grease the wheels. Once you are in God’s presence, here are some questions you can ask him:
- How do you see this season?
- What do you love about Christmas and what makes you sad?
- Is there something in me that needs your healing touch?
- Can we look at it together? What do you want to show me?
- Where is my thinking skewed?
- Can you help me feel your love?
- Is there someone in my family that triggers me?
- How do you see them?
- How you see me?
- Is there anything else you want me to know at a heart level that will help me stay who I am during this holiday season?
I find it best to journal what I am hearing. As I write, more words come and if I write them down I can read them again and receive comfort and restoration again.
I pray that God would give each one of you the strength and courage to celebrate Advent this year, hand-in-hand with Jesus, doing what he shows you to do and letting go of all the rest.