Just Keep Going

It’s pretty amazing how much can happen in a year. I went back to college in January, working on my second bachelor’s degree (this time in computer science.) I also started this year with some unknown health issues. As soon as I started to figure out what to do for my health, I plunged into the worst depression of my life. As soon as I figured out medications to get out of that darkness, I got in a car crash that totaled my first car and broke my first bone (a little bone in my thumb that will remain broken for the rest of my life).

So, needless to say, it’s been an eventful year. But in the midst of all the brokenness and difficulties, some of the best moments of my life took place. I made some of the best friends I have ever had and strengthened many of my prior friendships. I learned what I am made of and who I truly am when all the layers are stripped away.

I have grown so much. I have been broken and humbled, but I have also learned to love myself. I learned that I was worthy of love and was able to see the good in me. But… I hope next year is easier. Even though this year has been one of immense growth, I am ready for a break. I am ready for things to get a little easier for me.

For the last few years, I have given a gift to Christ for his birthday. This year, my gift is just to keep going. Things have been so hard. I haven’t wanted to go on. I’ve just wanted to give up. So my gift is simply to endure, to not give up no matter how hard it gets or how much I want to. I pray this next year is easier, but my commitment is to not lose faith no matter how hard it gets. I will hold on to hope. I will keep on keeping on.

Holiday Meltdowns

I love the holidays and spending time with my family, but sometimes holidays bring out the worst in me. Holidays are the perfect storm for a sensory overload. There’s an extraordinary amount of people around, which means more noise, messiness, and general sensory experiences.

Everyday noise is usually manageable because I have learned to cope with it. Sometimes it becomes stressful and I need to be alone for a while, but usually I can handle life pretty well despite all the noise. During the holidays though, I feel stressed all the time. There’s noise and people and lights and something going on all the time. I feel like I’m in a tornado of constant motion and the noise swirls around me suffocating me, agitating like a blender grinding ice.

This constant commotion of emotions and sensory overload has led to some meltdowns this holiday season. Unfortunately, my family has been the recipient of my inability to handle everything. Luckily, I have been better this year than in the past. Still, I have been frustrated by my meltdowns or explosions of emotions.

I just hope that people are understanding. I hope that if you have a family member or friend with autism or sensory issues, that you understand that the holidays are harder for us. We try to participate and be kind and hold ourselves together, but if we break or snap, please understand that it’s not you. I promise we’re trying. I promise I’m trying. It’s just a lot to handle with so much going on.

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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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I plan to take a break from this blog for a while. I have posted quite a lot in the last few months and although it has helped me figure out some things and focus on positive things, it has also been exhausting. I am extraordinarily honest online and excruciatingly vulnerable. This is good for helping people understand and connect, but it also wears on me emotionally and mentally, which in turn affects me physically.

So I have decided to take about a month off from this blog. I plan on posting about Christ and Christmas on my other blog, servicemission.wordpress.com. So feel free to follow me on there if you’re interested.

Anyway, I wish you all a merry Christmas and happy new year. Remember to not just give presents, but give your presence. Christmas is not about the stuff, it is about the people. Don’t forget that!

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.

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.