It’s the Holiday Season and you are at your third party of the week, the second to be using a ‘ugly Christmas sweater themed’ and the first to do a gift exchange- white elephant style.
Who doesn’t know what ‘White Elephant’ is? Maybe you know it by the term ‘Yankee Swap’? Or ‘Dirty Santa’? Still no? Ok… fine, I will explain the age old (seriously though, historians believe it has been around since about 1828!) tradition of gift swapping to you.
The idea is incredibly simple. You bring a gift to exchange to a party, you place it on the gift table, and when the time comes everyone draws a number or enters their names into a hat or large glass bowl or festive basket (you get the idea) and the game begins. The first person gets to choose a gift… they can either keep it or swap it out… the next person can either steal the first persons gift or draw a new gift… then the next person can steal from one of the other two people or draw a new gift and so on and so forth. If your gift gets stolen you can either steal or draw a new gift (some people only say you can draw a new gift and not steal) and most importantly one gift can only be stolen three times. Make sense? No… thats ok, it doesn’t really matter for the moral of this story to work.
Back to your fantasy party full of friends you love, tasty food, lots of festive beverages, and that table full of gifts to be swapped over in the corner. As you survey the gifting table you can’t help but notice how some people really went out of their way with the wrapping, who knew a bow could be tied so perfectly? Some people opted for the bag method which looks great and is wayyyyy less work. And then there were those who couldn’t be asked to wrap their gifts in anything other than the bag from the store itself. Just when you were about to set the gift you brought down and walk away from the table you notice a rather poorly wrapped, crinkled, misshapen gift and your heart sinks just a little. You have an overwhelming suspicion that whatever is inside that brown paper parcel is not what you originally hoped to receive (you heard someone brought air pods!)… and yet… you have a sneaking feeling that is the gift you will end up getting stuck with. Before the thought grips you any further you set the present you brought squarely on top of that crinkled brown blob and walk away, putting the gift out of your mind… or trying to.
I was texting with a friend of mine this morning about a pretty major life change she is going through. It is one of those changes that is inevitable, you know it is coming, and yet, you hope, that with any sort of control on your part you can ward it off just a little longer.
Change is hard. Am I right? You don’t need to answer that… I know I’m right. 9 times out of 10 it isn’t something we welcome in with open arms… even the changes we are excited about still mean we are loosing or letting go of something else.
As she was telling me about this experience I couldn’t help but see how often I resist or fear change, especially when I know it is coming for me. I have never gone through exactly what she is going through, though I have a feeling I will one day and when I do I want to remember what I said to her, “change is hard... but it’s often a gift in ugly wrapping paper”.
Change is often that gift on the table that looks rather rough on the outside and not very appealing. It gives us a pit in our stomachs and takes our breath away ever so slightly. The thing I am realizing is that I can choose to get over the fear and anxiety, have courage and rip open the brown paper package to reveal whats inside OR I can sit in a ball of anxiety and wait, watching all the other ‘gifts’ be opened around me, refusing to face the reality of what is meant for me.
Truth be told, I am currently facing a brown paper package moment in my life, as much as my prior paragraph would lead to believe my ‘change’ is in the future there is very much a change happening in the preset (see what I did there…). Up until now it has been really easy to sit back and watch people around me open their ‘gifts’ revealing changes in their lives which once terrified them, only to realize that ‘thing’ is exactly what they needed to transform their lives for the better, to change their lives for good. But now… its getting harder to ‘sit on my hands’ and not rip open that wrapping paper…. I mean, this change in my life is so apparent that OTHER PEOPLE are calling it out… my friends boy friend, who is basically a mind reader/soul speaker, said to her after our first hang out together, “Oh, Kelseys life is about to change in a big way, it is written all over her.” At the time my response was… “cool… great… maybe I'll hold out a little longer…” But now? Now I am over waiting… it is time. Time to be brave in my self, time to have courage!
Anne Lamott once wrote that “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”
What was keeping me from seeing that ugly little package as a gift before? What was keeping me from tearing off that crinkled brown paper and revealing the gift within? FEAR. F&*#ING FEAR. Which is just… sad.
There is a verse in the Bible which says, “Perfect love casts out fear.” A friend and gifted teacher of mine just translated that in a way that made my heart nearly explode. She said, “you know, I’ve been dwelling on 1 John 4:18, the verse which says, ‘perfect love cast out fear’ and I was like, ‘love is already perfect! Why do you need to say it, when it IS it?’ So I looked it up. And do you know what the word ‘perfect’ means in this context? It means to, ‘Administer to something until it is rendered full.’”
How good is that? UMMMMM it is so good! Because it means even in fear God is administering his love into our lives, over and over and over again, filling us up, even when we fall and spill and make a mess, he picks us up, brushes us off and says, “It’s ok, I have more.” We can be in the middle of our fear and not be overwhelmed because we are being filled to overflowing with the LOVE of the one who IS love, the creator of the universe, the Divine.
The other side of the same coin would be fearing that our lives will never change. My sweet friends, as I said before, change is inevitable. Change is in our pasts, present and future. We get to choose how we will handle it. Will we avoid it or embrace it? Will we try opening it slowly, peeling back one corner and trying to see inside? Or will we choose to have courage, to do it afraid, lean in and rip that wrapping paper off like a bandaid? Remembering that even in our fear we can choose to be emboldened with the love of the one who loves us best- fear may be around us, but it is not dwelling in us.
Yoda boyfriend (whom I mentioned earlier) has a quote which says, “Radical acceptance of your life as it is today—especially when your life is not where you want it to be— doesn’t mean that your life is never going to change. No, it’s through the healing journey of positioning your heart to accept your life as it is today that you work through and release the fear of your life never changing and as a result— your life changes.” -Caleb Cambell
Such a good reminder. You have today, this moment. This breath. Allow the change to come. Surrender the resistance (p.s. I am 1000% writing that for myself to hear) and lean into love. You will never regret the healing that comes through acceptance.
My friends, what changes are you facing? How can you embrace them rather than resist them? What fear is keeping you from acceptance? And how can we walk with you on this road?
In grace and gratitude,