Our Hope: An Answer to What Does Christmas Mean to You.

hope

No matter the window of time I allot between asking God something, and when I think the answer will come, He seems to enjoy answering right before the window closes. A little over a week ago, I wrote a blog about how I came to the conclusion that I have no idea what Christmas means, aside from what I’ve seen, heard or been taught. Well just LAST NIGHT, on Christmas Eve, it came to me, what it all symbolizes for me.

Keeping with the understanding that Christ’s birth is celebrated on Christmas, I went deeper to discover how significant His birth was, and how that significance can be applied to my life every year.

There’s a song called Our Hope by Chandler Moore that I discovered a few days ago. I listened to the live performance of it last night, and this song literally brought the meaning of Christmas to life for me.

Hope is defined as a feeling that what is wanted can be had.

In the song, Chandler describes the feelings that may have been felt when the people found out that Christ was soon to be born.

A part of the song says ‘We can’t wait for you to come, you are our hope.’

The birth of Jesus brought hope because of what He was promised to be for all humanity. He gave them a reason to keep living. Life had been kind of hard in the Old Testament, trying to live according to the law of God. God knew we needed help, but it took a long time for Jesus to come and even still He had to grow up before He could fulfill his purpose for coming.

For me, Christmas is a reminder of God’s faithfulness to His word and promises. The birth of Jesus was the beginning of the manifestation of the greatest thing that happened, which was God’s gift of eternal life and salvation. It’s almost like a second Resurrection celebration. Jesus’s birth restored hope, because as you may know, it’s likely for one to get weary while they wait for something they are expecting to come.

What better time to have hope restored than during the last month of the calendar year. No matter what your year has been like, look for something, if but one thing, that can give you hope going into the next year. Even if it isn’t the entire promise fulfilled, celebrate the happenings that point to a favorable future.

With hope for a future,

Kiana

What Does Christmas Mean to You?

That was the question my principal asked the students as we ended our chapel service. As I heard the students answering, I thought to myself, “I don’t even know what I would say if I were given a chance to speak.” Of course, I know the “right” answer; Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, gathering with family, giving gifts, being happy, thankful, etc. But that’s only what I know about Christmas based on what I’ve heard or been told; that’s not what it means to ME.

You see, although my family has celebrated Christmas as long as I’ve been alive, the only thing that seemed to be consistent was being a part of the Christmas play at church. Of course, I got to open gifts and usually got exactly what I wanted, there were no traditions or special activities associated with the day itself. So for me, as I got older and no longer had the anticipation of opening gifts or being in a play, Christmas wasn’t that special. It sounds unfortunate, but it is true.

I’m sure the passing of my grandmother and father put a damper on things for my mom and I, but we never stopped to realize how it affected us. So now, I go home for Christmas, not really looking forward to anything special that only happens around Christmas. I’m always grateful for time I can spend with my mom but that tends to be the extent of the expectancy, so to speak.

While beginning a tradition sounds like an ideal “remedy”, it’s kind of strange to start one while there are still elders around, having to get them to participate, instead of the other way around. If nothing else, I’ll be thinking about what Christmas means to me, all the way up to the day, and I’m hoping I’ll have figured something out by then.

Peace and Blessings,

Kiana

I Care, But I Can’t

So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 1 Corinthians 3:7-8

There was a time (very recently), when I tried to do it ALL. That’s right, I tried to plant, water and I was taking credit for the growth, if any. My intentions were good, but I had missed a key principle to life: I had not realized that I hadn’t identified my role, therefore, I didn’t know to stop when I had fulfilled it. I got caught up in the fact that it seemed like no one else was working, so I figured I’d pick up the slack, but it was way too much for one person. I found  myself depleted and mad with God. He let me sulk in my frustration just long enough for me to discover the issue. I was upset because what I thought was God’s assignment for me, destroyed me. But I now realize that I took on more than what was on my job description and the harsh reality is, you don’t get extra credit for things God didn’t lead you to do. After all, Obedience is better than sacrifice.

The Savior Complex

It took me a while but I finally had to admit that I had it. My desire to help had reached the end of the spectrum where it literally hurt me to not help someone I saw struggling. I couldn’t think of any valid reason to not help a person until helping hurt me. It was rough, but God allowed me to invest in a few situations/people that didn’t have the same goal I had in mind. And that’s the thing about over helping, you tend to develop this expected outcome from your own perspective, without considering that the receiver may not be hoping for the same thing. And in many cases, the receiver doesn’t have a plan.

So many scriptures have come to life for me while learning this lesson, including “Do not to cast your pearls to swine.” My idea of swine was so narrow that I actually missed the stench of it when it was before me. I lost a lot of pearls along this recent journey but I have finally realized the value of my pearls. And that’s where the title of this post ties in.

I care, but I can’t.

I can no longer do more than what is being required of me (by God). People can place expectations knowingly and unknowingly and you have to know for yourself what you’re instructed to give in that moment. I’ve realized that just because I have it, doesn’t mean I have to give it. It’s possible that someone else is assigned to care or provide or it may just be a job for God. I had to learn not to intervene between the Shepard and His sheep.

It’s okay and even good to empathize with others as they go through their struggles and trials of life, but you have to know and stick to the role you play in it, if any. Either you plant or water, but ultimately God brings the increase. Never find yourself taking the credit or even being glorified by the one you help. God enables us to do what we do, therefore all credit is due to Him!

Sometimes in the midst of lending a hand we can’t see what the outsiders see, and it’s important to consider the wise counsel of others. (Hopefully, you have someone whose judgment you can trust.) So if they think you might be getting too involved, consider it and reflect, but most of all, Obey God!

For the Kingdom,

Kiana