Thursday, December 18, 2014

It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

Well, it’s back again—the Holiday Season, and all of the expectations that go along with it. For those of us who deal with pain and mobility challenges, this time of year is particularly difficult. I don’t know about you, but I really struggle with wanting to go out and shop for gifts for the people I love. I want to go to the clothing store and pick out just the right sweaters for my boys—the ones that will bring out their eyes, and show off their handsome looks. My dear husband always says he doesn't want or need anything for Christmas, so I want to go out browsing the stores for inspiration for the perfect gift. I long to be able to go on social shopping trips with friends, strolling through the mall and window shopping.

But that is not how this Christmas shopping season will play out. I’ll do most of my shopping online, and for the things I can’t get online, I’ll buy gift cards so they can go and pick out what they like. I am tempted to be saddened by this. A part of me wants to lament the loss of my ability to do even the simplest of shopping. If I allowed myself, I could get pretty angry about this inability to do even a short shopping trip without pain. Even now, I am dealing with increased pain because I couldn't resist a day of shopping last weekend. It is very frustrating to have to pay so dearly for a simple outing like that. This is the reason I say, “It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.”

Are you also feeling increased pain and the sadness, anxiety and grief that come with it? If so, I have good news for you! Though the pain is real, and we must deal with it, the emotional part is optional. I don’t have to feel sad or anxious about my pain if I direct my feelings by controlling my thoughts. Instead of thinking the thoughts that come naturally—“This is so frustrating. All I wanted to do was buy a few gifts for my family! Now I will suffer for a week because of it. It’s not fair. Everyone else can do this easily. Why must I suffer?”—I can think biblically: “God has been so generous with me, to give me the means to purchase gifts. How wonderful that I live in an age when I can get practically anything online, and have it delivered right to my door! What a blessing it is to have a family for whom to purchase gifts, when there are many who are alone this year. I think I will reach out to one of them right now…”

Do you see how this kind of thinking would change one’s feelings? Remember, friend, your feelings and emotions are always, always, always, 100% of the time, tied to your thoughts. There is no such thing as a feeling that “comes out of nowhere.”  If you are feeling happy, sad, blue, or somewhere in between, there was a thought that preceded it! Believe it or not, you are in control of your thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8). You can choose to think thoughts about your pain that lead to sadness and self-pity, or you can choose to think thoughts that lead to a godly response, and service to others.

I’d love to write more, but I have to go and visit my widow friend, who is homebound and loves the company of others. As I drive to her house, I will think thoughts of gratitude for my ability walk and to drive, for my friendship with her, and for the wonderful way our Savior has knit us together in His love. How about you? Are you taking your thoughts captive as you feel Christmas this year? Let any pain or mobility issues be reminders to be grateful instead of cues to feed your flesh. God is God, and He does what He pleases with what is His. Hallelujah, we’re His! He will give you the power to take your thoughts captive, as you trust in Him!