The God Connection

God isn’t just my father. Jesus Christ isn’t just my brother. They are my best friends. They know the good I’ve done and the not so good. They know how much I beat myself up for my mistakes and how much I crave to feel loved and like I belong. They see it all and they love it all. They have held me on broken nights when all I wanted was to die so I could be with them again. They have shown me they loved me, but that they want me to stay in this world until my time is done.

People usually struggle with faith. They struggle with doubts that God is really real and if he really is there for them and loves them. I struggle with the opposite. I struggle with knowing how much God loves me. I struggle with feeling a connection to him so strong that I constantly want to die. I struggle with wanting to be with him so much that this world seems to lose all color and beauty because I forget to see him in it. I don’t struggle to know God exists. He has been the most real thing in my life. Night after lonely night, I would pray to a God I not only knew was listening, but I knew loved me. God has always been and will always be my best friend.

Sometimes I ask God how much longer. I ask him how much more I will need to endure. This world holds no beauty for me without God in it. If I didn’t see God in the world around me, if I didn’t see him in the people who love me, I don’t know if I would ever feel light or at home. I feel at home when I feel God’s presence surrounding me, when I feel his love through other people. I see beauty in the world around me because I see God in it. I see his hand, his love, his creativity.

I know God. I know God so well that I want to die to be with him. I talk to him like I would talk to my best friend. I tell him how I feel and how sad I am and how grateful I am and how happy I am. I tell him about my friends and my worries for them and my love for them. I tell him how much I miss him and how hard, yet beautiful life is. I talk with God and I sing to God and sometimes when I lie in bed, he feels so close that I’m pretty sure he holds me so I can fall asleep.

Maybe this all seems strange. This relationship to someone or something you can’t see doesn’t make sense to you. But this world doesn’t make sense to me. This love people have for money or power, the way people can hurt others, the things people say and do to each other, doesn’t make sense to me. God makes sense. We don’t feel pain because he’s not there. We feel pain because he’s not here, because we’re not there. This world is broken. It’s flawed and imperfect. God is the only one that can change that. He’s the only one that can make it right. I hold onto him. I cling to him. I love him. I know he holds me when I’m hurt and cries with me when I break and loves me at all times.

I don’t know what it’s like to struggle to have faith in God because God is the only thing that has felt stable in my life. But I do know what it’s like to struggle. I struggle to have faith in this world. I struggle to have faith that things will get better. I struggle to believe that people love me, that I do good things, that I have worth in this world. I struggle to fit into a world where I feel like I can never belong.

Maybe you struggle to believe in God, maybe he seems far away and distant, maybe his love seems difficult or out of reach, but I want you to know that he loves you as much as he loves me. I may feel him more because I have an undeniable connection to him, but I know he loves you too. Believe in God. Hold on to hope. He is there. He does love you. “Things will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end.”

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Semicolon Christmas

Christmas is officially over, but it never has to really be over. Christmas is hope, light, love, giving. The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of Christ. Do not allow a date to change your heart. If you can love during Christmas time, you can love after it ends. You can help, serve, and show kindness.

The basis behind Project Semicolon is that your story isn’t over. When you use a semicolon instead of a period, you choose to continue a sentence that could have been ended. Project Semicolon is a fight against suicide; it is a reminder that we chose not to end our lives, but continue them.

My life has been a series of semicolons, decisions to keep fighting despite the urge to end it all. This year I have decided to make Christmas my semicolon project. I choose not to let Christmas end because the day has come and gone; I plan to keep the spirit of Christmas all year long. It’s the day after Christmas, but the day after the first Christmas was the continuation of hope. It was and is the time of Christ. The wisemen kept traveling to see Christ long after the sign of his birth. We can also keep seeking Christ long after celebrating his birth.

We celebrate Christmas, not because Christ was born, but because he lived, because he lives. The day after Christmas and every day after it was just as important as that first Christmas day. Because Christ chose to come into the world, we never have to be alone. The most beautiful part of Christmas is that it led to Easter, which is the greatest semicolon of all. So this year, I am choosing to celebrate and live the spirit of Christ all year round and put a semicolon on Christmas.

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Why Wait?

I’m usually a big Christmas person. I love giving to people. I love an excuse to give. And I love loving others and showing them I love them.

This year though, I wasn’t excited like usual. It seemed useless. The presents I bought all year long sit in their boxes, unopened, untouched, unwrapped.

Tonight though, I realized something. I don’t need an excuse to be generous. I don’t need to wait until Thanksgiving to be thankful or until Giving Tuesday to give money to charities or until Christmas to give gifts or until New Year’s day to make resolutions. I can be thankful all year; I can give gifts all year; I can make goals all year. I don’t have to wait for an excuse to do good.

What I like best about Christmas is being Christ-like all the time. What I like best about Christmas is remembering Christ every day. What I like best about Christmas is it doesn’t have to be a one day or one month thing. It can be an every day thing if we just live like Christ was born every day because he was born but more importantly, he is alive. And because he was born and because he does live, every day can be Christmas.

We don’t have to be confined to one day generosity. We don’t have to be confined to one day thankfulness. We can make every day Christmas and every day Thanksgiving if we just allow ourselves to love every day. And that is a beautiful thing.

Resolutions/ Gift to God

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions because I don’t think you should wait for a particular date to make positive changes in your life. I do, however, like the idea of giving a gift to Christ when we celebrate his birth.

Last year, I gave the gift of prayer. Christ has always been my best friend from the time I was a child, he was the only one I could turn to in the darkness and loneliness. I realized though that I had neglected to really talk to God like I used to. I still prayed. I just didn’t really communicate with him. Throughout this year I focused on rebuilding that relationship, on getting to know my Father again, and allowing Him to be a part of my life. I have gone through amazing changes this year and hardly recognize who I used to be.

I wanted to do that again this year, give a gift to Christ and then focus on it all next year. However, as I asked for feedback on what I could give, the feedback I received indicated that I may be focusing on the wrong things. It is good to want to be better, but maybe the gift I need to give this year is to myself. Maybe this year I need to learn to love myself. It’s still a gift to God because I know he wants me to be happy and love myself, but maybe it’s also about time that I do something for me.

The truth is that I really don’t like myself. I look in the mirror and think, “how could anyone ever love you? You will never be enough. You could never be beautiful.” No wonder I want to die so much… The only good thing I ever say to myself is “you do good things.” And I repeat it over and over because it’s the only compliment I can actually believe.

Maybe this year I will give the gift of changing that- changing how I talk to and about myself. In all honesty, it will be hard to give up hating myself. I don’t enjoy hating myself, but I don’t see any reason to love myself and coming up with reasons seems like a daunting task. Is it possible to love someone you hate? I have already proven that is possible this year, I just have to prove it to myself this time.

Justice Doesn’t Make You Happy

This post goes with the last post I published. So even though I’d usually post this on my religious blog, I decided to post it on here as a follow up.

I believe in justice. In fact, I have an unhealthy belief in justice. I used to participate in what I called “karma driving,” which basically means I would treat other drivers the way they treated people. So if I saw someone tailing other people or cut someone off, I’d go out of my way to be a jerk to that person. I justified my behavior because “they deserved it.”

I’m not sure when I decided to stop, but I basically just realized that it wasn’t making me happy. I mean, I felt some satisfaction that the person “got what they deserved” but knew it didn’t really change anything. Me being a jerk wasn’t going to change how someone else drives. Yeah, they might be a little more careful for the next few minutes, but jerks will still be jerks no matter how many times it backfires.

I still secretly hope that the car speeding past everyone and cutting off cars will end up stuck behind a semi truck, but I no longer feel compelled to make them suffer.

See, I have finally realized that justice doesn’t make you happy. Getting what we deserve doesn’t make us happy, and giving people what they deserve doesn’t make us happy either. Mercy on the other hand, does make us happy. I think that’s God’s favorite part of being God. Extending mercy is so fun. It makes you feel joy. Christ taught that the person who is forgiven more loves more. Forgiveness breeds love. Justice breeds hate. That’s why forgiving is so powerful. Mercy and forgiveness are gateways to love and love leads to joy. I’m so grateful for forgiveness and I hope that I can find ways to be merciful because I definitely need more love in my heart.

One of my favorite scriptures states that perfect love casteth out fear. So my goal lately has been to try to love people perfectly and love God perfectly because I fear people, but I know through God love can cast out that fear. And by believing in mercy and loving more, I think I can become so much happier.

Easter

Easter is one of my favorite holidays. I love the chocolate bunnies. I love spending time with my family. And most of all, I love celebrating the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This year I decided to make Easter baskets for my family. Mostly it was because I’m single and I have the time and money to do so, but also because I just love making people happy. I love watching someone’s face as they discover something exciting. And Easter baskets are just exciting.

My family used to hide the Easter baskets on Sunday morning. When we woke up we’d have to find them under our bed or behind the tv or between couch cushions. Easter was always exciting for me. And I always hoped to get a chocolate bunny. I’m not exactly sure why, but my favorite chocolate is chocolate bunnies- the solid milk chocolate kind.  I think it has to do with the texture. No matter what brand of chocolate it is, it tastes better as a bunny shape.

Anyway, because Easter and springtime in general is a time for new beginnings, I’ve decided to use this time to set some resolutions. I’ve never engaged very much in setting New Year’s resolutions because I just feel like I shouldn’t have to wait until a new year to start making changes. If I want to make changes in my life, I want to start today not 8 months from now.

But I’ve decided to make some Easter resolutions because I want to be better. And even though I try to be better every day, I think connecting it to Easter will give me greater hope in trying to accomplish my goals. Because in the end, it’s not really me that pulls me to a new level of being. I am just a person, but “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

A Little Christmas

This year we had the biggest Christmas I have ever had in my entire life. Well, biggest in terms of presents. We had a ton of presents this year. So many presents in fact that we were tired of opening presents by the time we had gotten to the end. We have never had a Christmas like this before. And to be honest, I hope we never do again.

I have decided that I like a little Christmas. Just a few presents and some genuine quality time. I’d rather have one gift that I can cherish and appreciate than 10 gifts that I won’t remember a year from now. Don’t get me wrong, I love gifts and I love giving gifts, but gifts mean more when there are less of them.

In my family, we have always opened our gifts one by one. Each person gets to see what each other person is opening and we get excited for the presents that we give and that others have given. It’s never been about the presents. It’s been about us. And I really missed that this year.

I miss getting excited when I see what other people have received, being happy for them because I know it is something they will enjoy. I miss each gift being unwrapped carefully because we treasure the time and thought that went into it. But mostly I miss the feeling I have when my family comes together to celebrate each other.

Yes, we celebrate the birth of our Savior at Christmas. But by giving each other carefully planned and picked out gifts, we celebrate our brothers and sisters. And I think that’s how Christ would want it to be.

I think if Christ were at our Christmas celebration, He would give us a carefully wrapped gift that reminded Him of us. He wouldn’t flood us with presents or try to get us the most expensive thing he could afford. He would give us something we hadn’t even realized we wanted that would remind us that He loves us and knows us and was thinking about us.

So next year, I’m committing to one gift and only one gift. It may be multiple items that tie into one, but it will be something that I’ve planned and picked out because I love who I am giving it to. And I will wrap that gift carefully and unwrap my gifts carefully because it will be our hearts wrapped in shiny paper to share with each other for that sacred day.