Today is a day to celebrate all that we have been given. It's a time for peace on earth and goodwill to all people. Sometimes it's easy to feel warm and fuzzy toward others, and sometimes it's as challenging as living without gravity to ground us. I am looking at my differences with others as a chance to practice being kind in the midst of disagreeing with people. Many times this year I have messed up in these inter-personal conflicts, but there have been moments where I knew I was actually getting it close to right, and then it felt like I was flying.
The world is made up of people with different opinions, outlooks, backgrounds and coping skills. The possibility of rubbing each other the wrong way is always present when more than one person is in the same room. We can love each other very much and still be hurtful, either intentionally or unintentionally. Forgiveness and grace exist to help us stay married, and remain in close contact with our closest family members and friends.
On this day, where families are gathered together and emotions tend to run hot, it helps to remember that we are all doing the best we can to get along. I have learned over the course of this year that I must draw the line at certain points to protect myself from being repeatedly hurt, but I've also lowered my expectations significantly in order to hang on to some relationships and make them work the best I can.
I have a small wooden sign by my sink which says, "Live simply. Give more. Expect less." When I reflect back on this year, I see that I have put these six words into practice, and they have liberated me in a way that nothing else has even come close to doing. I have discovered who I am in the process of giving of myself, and in expecting less from people, I have found the key to making relationships run smoother.
This is not to say that I have it all figured out. There are many dark moments of soul searching and I'm definitely not satisfied with the outcome of many of the conflicts I've been through this year. But I'm moving in a specific direction with the kind of personal growth I've been working through, and having a goal to live simply, give more and expect less has guided me when I would've otherwise been hopelessly lost.
This Christmas, I wish all of you peace and joy, with more love than you know how to handle. I pray it wells up in your spirit like a fountain, and spills out to those around you. We are the change we would like to see in the world. Ideas and words can lead to actions which transform us, and that change spreads slowly to other people. We are each candles in a dark room, and as our light shines, we provide hope and warmth to someone who may need that desperately.
Merry Christmas. Thank you for reading and for being on this life journey with me. You have given me a big gift today, and I am deeply grateful for each and every one of you.