“Deck the hall with bells and holly, fa, la, la, la, la. . . ., “ plays on the radio as you begin to decorate for the happy Christmas Season. Your spirit is lifted, and the warm feeling you get inside is ignited at the thought of the decorations, music, and spending time with friends.
Challenging Past Painful Memories
However, for some of you, Christmas is the hardest season. It is encased in painful memories of the past. Your memories get triggered by the sounds and smells of the season. These triggers remind you of when your heart was hurt. You still feel the sting in your heart from the mean words that were spoken. You still feel the disappointment and the heaviness that overshadowed the joy of Christmas.
You want to share in the jubilant joy of the season that comes every year, but you are not sure how to begin. I know these feelings of uncertainty and confusion that collide with your desire to be joyful. I know them because of the twenty years I spent in abusive marriages. I am also here to let you know that you can break out of the past and embrace the joy of Christmas. I know you can experience the real joy of the Christmas Season of Christ’s birth, because my Christmas Seasons are better than I ever could have imagined.
You Have the Power to Choose
To help me break through my painful past around the Holiday Season, I made the following three choices and carried out these plans to change my mind, heart, and reactions.
- Choose to celebrate Christ’s birthday OR your past experiences. Intentionally choose to keep your focus and joy on Jesus and not on the world’s choice to fill it with self-absorbed reasons. Guard your heart and attitude. Conform your mind, heart, and attitude to the love, joy, and peace of Jesus Christ living inside of you. Remember Christmas is about celebrating the birth, life, death, resurrection, and example of Christ’s keeps you from focusing on your painful past.
- Choose to surrender the painful memories to Jesus. Whenever a memory or negative feeling comes into your head, recite the following verses.
- Thank you, Jesus, that “by your wounds I have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 NIV
- I will “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV
- I will think on things that are, “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, excellent, and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 ESV
Check to see how your memory was triggered. Was it a smell, a sound, a place, etc.? Immediately, choose three people or things you can be grateful for, at that moment. Stay present in the joy of the moment and let your gratefulness replace your old memory. It takes time to change old patterns, but with consistency, you will overcome your painful memories with Jesus.
- Choose to change your present and future by intentionally making happy memories with new activities. If you had a bad experience in the past, make a new one. Be determined to let Christ renew your mind with his love as you create new loving memories. Remember Jesus came to earth to give us an abundant life. Our abundance comes from him dwelling in us. Choose to let his love, joy, and peace bubble up in you and overflow to others.
Maintain Your Expectations
Remember Christmas is about celebrating Christ’s birth and life. When you place your focus and expectations around sharing Christ’s love with others without any return, you will love as he did. Any expectations you have about Christmas or any other area in your life are created by you. Christ’s love is about living in the present and loving others as they are and where they are. This compassionate attitude is loving others as we would like to be loved, which is what Jesus showed us how to do in his life.
It is up to you to choose to have a happy and wonderful Christmas or to stay in the past. Recount your blessings in Christ Jesus. As his disciple, you are loved, saved, and right-with-God. Let your heart, mind, and attitude reveal the joy you have from Christ living in you. Let your grateful heart be evident in your smile and intoxicating JOY. Let Christ be the beacon of hope, love, and happiness to the rest of the world this Christmas season!
For God so Loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV
Stay encouraged, learn more about Christ’s perfect love design by following my blog at https://www.livingandlovingfearlessly.com/blog.