24 December 2013

A Twinkling City & The Magic of Christmas

Last week, I flew from Dallas to New Orleans and back for a visit with some sweet friends from college and to see some other sweet friends tie the knot in Mobile! It was pretty neat to take off and see so many lights twinkling, it made the whole city seem happy and full of Christmas joy.

I'm not sure how to articulate my thoughts and feelings about Christmas. I will try not to make this a part two of my "I hate Thanksgiving" post.

I have some similar feelings towards the two holidays, but they result from different things. You see, I think we make way too big of a deal about Thanksgiving, and I feel quite the opposite about Christmas. We do not make it a big enough deal. It's so commercial, which I think cheapens the whole season and experience.

I'm very bad at receiving gifts. VERY bad. I love getting gifts that have been well thought out. It makes me feel loved when someone knows me and cares enough to think about something I would actually like, and buys or makes it for me for Christmas. On the other hand, when I receive a gift of clothes or shoes or something dumb that I don't want or need, I feel like the person who gave the gift (admittedly usually my mom or another family member) not only doesn't know me, but doesn't care enough to take the time to get to know me. And honestly, I'd rather receive nothing, because otherwise I feel guilty about them wasting their money. I know the value of a dollar and I'd rather someone pay off $20 of their credit card debt than buy me another damn scarf. It's all very selfish, I suppose. I don't know.

I also only like to give gifts that are well thought out. That's another reason why Christmas is stressful, because all of a sudden, you're supposed to give a gift to everyone at once and there's no time to think of each person as an individual. It can often take me a month to decide what I want to get for someone or to think of the perfect idea. (Hence, my friends who got married in August still have not received a gift from me.)

All of this is beside the point of Christmas though. Don't get me wrong, I love sitting in a dark living room in warm comfy clothes with a twinkling Christmas tree watching a cheesy Christmas movie on ABC Family with some hot chocolate and some Christmas sweets just as much as anyone could. But I don't spend NEARLY enough time contemplating the Truth of the Holiday, which is that this is the day that we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the World and the triumph of love over death. I've never been good at being patient and keeping the spirit of Advent in my heart during this season. The God of the Universe took on flesh so that He could intimately know me, and just for the sliver of a hopeful possibility that I would choose Him over myself, and live with Him in love for eternity. It wasn't even guaranteed that I would say yes, but just for the chance that I might He became a helpless little baby and carried a cross to His death 33 years later, and He would have done it all even if I were the only sinner on earth.

That is groundbreaking. That is earth-shattering. That is love.

Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God and Son of the Blessed Virgin, come to reign in our hearts and have mercy on me, a sinner. Be born in us this night.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

15 December 2013

Fear of Commitment

Guess what new vice has creeped up on me?

Mhmm... yep. That's right.

How did this happen? I have no idea.

The first time I thought that I might have contracted a case of commitophobia was when I was asked to sing in the LifeTeen choir for Advent. (You can read about that a few posts ago... Update: I only made it to one out of the three Sundays I committed to... can you say flaky?) I convinced myself that I just didn't want to do it and didn't want to make the time sacrifices necessary because frankly, I just didn't care. All of those things are true, but my old self would have sucked it up and gone, it's only three Sundays after all.

The second time I thought about it was when I went to look at an apartment that I'm thinking about moving into. With my new job and our company slowing down slightly in how fast people are moving up, the expectation was set that we would be in our current roles for 9 to 12 months before another promotion. So I figured that I should settle down here in Texas for a while and make the most of the situation. That includes a living situation that is homey and comfortable and secure. But even still, the thought of signing a 12 month lease freaks me out! I have no idea why... maybe it's because of my former nomadic lifestyle with FOCUS and even in college, but 12 months is a long time. A lot can happen in 12 months. The what-if's are overwhelming.

Part of it is because I haven't really found my people here in Texas yet. In college and in FOCUS it's so easy to make friends. Everyone has the same set of beliefs as you, everyone cares about your soul, everyone desires your good. The real world just isn't like that. All of the legit Catholics I know are married, so it's really hard to find friends that I connect with on a deeper level. Sure I have "friends" but none of them really know me. And it's bad because I'm starting to wonder if I even know myself anymore.

When I first started working in Corporate America, I felt bad for my co-workers because it seemed like none of them had any depth. But as a sanguine, it's easy for me to forget about anything deeper than the here and now, too. Without praying a holy hour everyday (or really even more than once a week, to be honest), everyone knows that it's going to be hard to know Jesus. But no one told me it'd be hard to know myself too. I guess I should have put two and two together, but sometimes you have to learn things the hard way, you know?

So I'm doing the only thing I can do. I'm facing my fears. I'm committing. Commitment takes sacrifice, and that's something I haven't done much of in the last few months. (I think I know my New Year's Resolution.) 12 months, here I come. I'm calling the apartment company and seeing when I can go sign on the dotted line. Also, I'm cutting 8 inches off of my hair today. I guess it's just time to grab the bull by the horns.

(And in case you're wondering... no... I'm not going back to LifeTeen Choir. Baby steps.)

St. Peter, pray for me.