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From Pain To Celebration: A Healing Journey Through the Holidays



I've been thinking about the Holidays. I used to dread them. I grew up with a father who waited until Christmas Eve to go out and buy presents and my little girl brain saw how much we were struggling as a family. I knew we didn't have much money. I saw how much my mother feared the financial blow that the day before Christmas was going to cost them. I saw my father drink heavily and wake us up at these insane early hours of the morning to cook us breakfast.


So that little girl grew up. She worried about money. She worried about someone trying to buy her love. She worried about being called selfish when she wanted to give the gifts back because she knew the cost of not being able to pay for heat in the winter. She knew the sadness she saw in her mothers eyes.


Now that I'm all grown up I'd like to believe that I have a better understanding of my father and mother. But the pain attached to those memories still brings tears to my eyes.


I now believe that my father in so many ways was trying to bring a little joy into our house. Most of the time he was angry when he drank and his words so often wounded my little girl heart. I ached to be loved and liked by my father. Back then I was always seeking times when he was sober so that I could "catch him and tell him that I loved him." If I just loved him enough maybe he wouldn't drink so much.


I used to believe my mother didn't like me. It seemed like the things I noticed and spoke out loud about, like the dysfunction of our home and the verbal abuse, was something that I was supposed to keep hidden. And I shamed the family by having a big mouth and telling other people about what was going on behind closed doors.


I was told that I was just selfish. I must have wanted something that my brother or sister got for Christmas, that I must not have liked what my father purchased for me. My little heart broke because they just didn't understand that I saw. I saw and I knew something was wrong in how things happened during the holidays.


It wasn't all bad. My dad would get out his old marine corp records and we'd listen to music and he had the most beautiful voice. We would sing along and I did feel a sense of connection. I loved that he liked to cook S.O.S for us (I even giggled when my father told us what those letters meant). I loved the paint by number kits he'd get me because he was a really talented artist and I wanted him to be proud of my painting too.


A few years ago I decided that I wanted to stop hating the holidays. I wanted to learn how to enjoy the time with a deeper understanding of love and forgiveness. The old stories of my childhood haven't changed so much accept for a sense of understanding that my parents were who they were, broken people who really were doing the best they could under the circumstances of their own wounds and a lack of understanding of who they were.


My parents didn't come to a healed and loving relationship with Christ until they were older. My father accepted Christ after a stroke that left him in a wheelchair and difficulty with his speech. He witnessed his children's and grandchildren's commitment to Jesus and he realized his own need to be saved. My mother didn't follow right away with her own conversion story. I was a little shocked by this as I often believed in my childhood that mother's aloofness and inability to connect was many caused by my fathers alcoholism, but since then I realized that she had a lot of demons from her own childhood past to wrestle with before she was ready to come and know God the Father as loving, kind, so full of acceptance and grace.


Both of my parents accepted Jesus before they passed this life and into the Kingdom of God. I'm so thankful they did. I prayed for them since I was a young girl. I knew that God could restore our family. It didn't happen in the ways that I thought they would. I didn't get to catch dad sober so I could hear that he loved me. I didn't get to have a connected and warm relationship with my mother before she died.


These things of healing, love and connection came when I decided to start expanding the information about how others function in their dysfunction. How others in their own ways show love, joy and kindness. I now have a bigger picture with a lot more details. I'm not seeing it through the eyes of a lost and broken little girl. I'm seeing my parents through the eyes of God. I see how they were raised, the brutalities of childhood abuse were rampant in my fathers childhood. Disconnection from my mothers mother left her wounded and not able to understand how to connect with her own daughters and son.


The drunkenness was a generational curse. Many in our family tree suffered under the addiction of alcohol and drugs. Disconnection was the only way for some of our family to cope with their own wounds, desiring not to bring those curses on to their children but unfortunately that is how generational curses seem to work.


The good news! The generational curses not only can be broken, but love is their replacement. Love for mothers and fathers who needed love from their mothers and fathers can be healed by the one who truly understands how to love us.


I want to celebrate holidays not because of the full tables of food or the pretty lights or the adorable songs sang during this time of year. I want to celebrate the holidays and every day because of the love and compassion I carry in my own heart.


God reached down and made himself human so that he could relate to us. Jesus is the atonement for our sins, for those generational curses. I have a testimony that shares both the past pain of abuse and the healing balm of forgiveness. I have learned to look at a bigger pictures as I discover that my childhood stories were incomplete. Yes I have suffered but I've also healed.


I have caused my own suffering at times, mainly because I refused to enjoy and celebrate a time of year that has asked me to slow down and witness something new. So now I'm on the lookout for good things and goodness in others. And it has truly expanded my heart and mind. I am thankful for all of my story. I am thankful for God's love and mercy. I am thankful for my family, the ones with me and the ones who have passed on.


I hope that in some way, when you are ready, you can discover some healing and a greater sense of what God wants to do for you. Maybe you too don't like the holidays for reasons that developed from the mind of your own childhood. I offer you my love and support. Sometimes we need to examine the heart behind why we reject things and ask ourselves if it is still protecting us or if it's time to allow some healing to come in. Be gentle with yourself. There is no judgement here.


So I'll leave this here. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas.


Shel


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