Friday, December 26, 2014

True Meaning of Christmas, brought to you by Hallmark Movies

Confession: I have watched approximately every single Hallmark movie of the Christmas variety this season. Which has surprised the heck out of me since I'm not usually a Christmas movie person. Quite the opposite actually. These movies leave me feeling full of hope that not every Christmas has to be lonely or painful. I've learned that broken engagements offer much more hope than despair, that second chances can change lives and plenty of families are dysfunctional. I'VE LEARNED THIS FROM HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIES!!! I can't decide if that's sad or not. But truthfully, all of these lessons have really hit home with me this season.
Christmas has truly taken on a new meaning for me this year. I have spent many Christmases in my life focused on the wrong things, wrong people, with the wrong attitude. I've spent the last two Christmases trying to find a balance within this life that didn't really feel like my own. This Christmas felt better. I dove head first into the Advent season this year and was really trying to reshape my own thoughts about how Christmas can mean more to me.
I know it's been a while since I've updated you guys on life happenings so maybe I should start there. Two days after I wrote my Thanksgiving post, the boyfriend and I got back together. (You can roll your eyes if you want, I promise it's okay) Classic case of spoke too soon. The thing about it is, when you just keep coming back to the same person over and over again no matter what happens (or when someone continues to pursue you over and over again no matter how scared & fickle you may seem), you have to explore that situation fully. I have no idea how we will decide when our actual anniversary is because I think we officially have like 7 of them now, but who cares. Things are so amazingly (sickeningly) good right now! (I'm not sure how I feel yet about being SO open with this relationship on the blog, but if you follow me on Twitter, Instagram or if we are Facebook friends then you'll get your fair share of our story.) One thing I will tell you is that on our first Christmas together, we got each other the same gift. This song has meaning in our relationship and I guess it truly is a sign that we are finally on the same page! We could not stop laughing about this, it was so crazy!

My family life is pretty complicated right now. Those relationships are messy and that's usually why Christmas is such an exhausting event for me. I mentioned that I chose not to spend Thanksgiving with my family this year, and for Christmas it was very much the same. I visited both my parents briefly on Christmas Eve then spent Christmas Day with a friend's family who treats me just like one of their own. Dysfunctional families are a part of life. Even the most put together families have dysfunction, I know that. Even Hallmark families have their fair share. Mine can really feel heavy at times, and it leads to me feeling so lonely and not like a part of my family at all. I'm so thankful for a church family and the absolute best group of friends who always remind me that I am loved.
Also, a couple weeks ago I got the chance to see Ann Voskamp, Ellie Holcomb & Amena Brown when they came on The Greatest Christmas Tour to Knoxville.
I love all of these ladies so I was super stoked to go see them, but I honestly wasn't quite as excited about the Christmas message. I left the program that night feeling so hopeful for the message of the Advent season and resting in God's love this Christmas. I was filled with even more hope than a Hallmark movie could offer me. My favorite quote from that night was from Ann Voskamp, "Cease the pace to do, to buy, to be more. Come as you are. You don't have to earn Christmas. You don't have to make it. You don't even have to like it. You can just rest in Christmas." You might be having a DUH moment right now, but I had a total WOW moment that night. I've never really viewed Christmas as being about what gifts I receive. But I am totally guilty of making it about what I can do to make Christmas great - whether it be gifts, food, or anything. The best lesson I've learned this Christmas is that my greatest gift is not my gift at all. It's simply my surrender in this season that typically overwhelms my heart in the worst way. My surrender means just being this empty space for God to fill with his love, kindness, goodness and letting those overflow from me. I'm not sure that I exactly nailed it this year, but I can say it was the best holiday season I've probably ever had.
This week we also had our Christmas services at church. Y'all know I'm crazy in love with my church and the fact that God continues to show up there week after week and is making big things happen in our community. Christmas services always knock it out of the park though.

My sweet boyfriend is one of our worship leaders so of course, I'm quite partial to him and that just added to my love of the Christmas services this year. It blows my mind to think that this time last year we had just met and barely knew each other and now we've been the better part of this year together (well trying to be together haha). And not only that, but God has shown up BIG time for me in so many other ways this year. This is only my 2nd year attending a Christmas service at OneLife. I simply cannot fathom what God will do in my life and in our church in 2015. Who knows what my life will look like at the next Christmas service. If I even tried to imagine, I'd be putting God into a box that He is so.much.bigger than. But I feel confident that he's going to rock my world, in the best way possible.

We sang the O come, O Come Emmanuel song and the lyrics have just been stuck in my mind for the past couple of days.
Rejoice, again, I say, rejoice
For unto us is born the Savior of the world
Take heart, oh weary soul, take heart
For help is on its way
And Holy is His name

When my soul and my heart begin to feel life's burdens, I hope I can remember these lyrics. Christmas is all about the Savior of the world being born and what that means to us. Help is here, and I don't have to feel like I'm doing this life thing alone.

I've learned so much by surrendering. I feel like I say that a lot here. But honestly, it's something that I continue to learn. Choosing faith over fear this year has brought me to where I am right now, which is exactly where I'm supposed to be. It's not easy and I most definitely don't always realize that the first time around. But just like in the Hallmark movies, second chances are sometimes the best learning experiences. I gave Christmas a second chance this year, and I really liked how it played out. I rested in what Christmas represents this year and I found true joy. I'll keep letting God work on this old heart of mine, and next year I'll probably practically be a Griswold. 

Hope all my little loves had a very Merry Christmas! XOXO


Joey said...

"Choosing faith over fear" is pretty much the exact description of what I'm trying my hardest to do right now. I love this post, friend. I'm happy that you and the boyfriend have worked things out and YAY for being nauseatingly good!! I'm happy you found a way to enjoy the holiday in a way that's best for you. We made those decisions a few years ago and while it's probably not how our families would choose for us to spend our time but we are in charge of our own lives.

Shannon Q. said...

Having the chance to know more about your story makes me love you even more :) I feel like I could say so much here that relates to the things that you've shared here. Thank you for sharing so openly. Huge blessings to you in the new year friend.

Pamela said...

Ahh, Nikki!! I love this & your big ole heart!!! That's hilarious that y'all got each other the same thing!! Def a sign, I think ;)

Ashley Robyn said...

You do what makes you happy friend. People will judge either way so why not make yourself happy in the process. I love how happy your post is. It is filled with hope and with encouragement. It makes me happy for you.

Tracy said...

Oh how I love this!! So happy for you and your new (old, lol!) boy and church and the joy they bring you! It's amazing how if we focus on God and others in this time of year that our own issues sometimes melt away or aren't as big as we thought, huh??

Hugs!! oxoxoxo

Ashley said...

oh i've missed so much of your life!! i saw some pics on FB and thought "is this a new guy!??!" and turns out it's not - i didn't even know you were seeing someone! I need work to be less busy so i can stay up on your life and others. haha either way, i'm happy for you. who cares how many times you're on or off as long as you're happy! :)

Kenya said...

This whole post was so inspiring to me!!! Gosh I needed that.

Glad you enjoyed your time.

Emmy Hornburg said...

"Cease the pace to do, to buy, to be more. Come as you are. You don't have to earn Christmas. You don't have to make it. You don't even have to like it. You can just rest in Christmas."

I love that quote. It's so perfect! I'm thankful my family had a very nice and relaxing Christmas this year. No stress or worries. Just enjoying the day and each other.

P!nky said...

I support you and all you are and what you want to be and do! Go for it, lady! Love that you got each other the same quote!


Erin Padgett said...

Sounds like you've had a wonderful year and really grown in your faith! I've missed keeping up with your blog and so glad to be back in blogger land!