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What I Learned from a Hallmark Christmas Movie (or Overcoming Christmas Guilt)

It was a cold Friday night and I was snuggled up under a blanket watching a Hallmark Christmas movie. (Yeah, Fridays are wild for this single gal)

Even though I thought I was going to just relax and enjoy, the Holy Spirit had one last little piece of heart healing to do before we really started to enjoy the holidays.

You see last week I shared how over the top excited Jamie and I are about Christmas this year, and it is so ridiculously true. Yet, there was still one small area with which I was still struggling once in awhile: holiday guilt.

Now I know from years of experience that whenever God provides great victory in an area, the enemy comes and tries to steal it. One of his most effective tools against is guilt (I really have to fight this). This year the lie he was trying to feed my brain was, “Do you really think it's right to be so excited about the holidays when your mom isn't here? Don't you think moving on is a little unfeeling?”

Being completely open, I have to admit that this is a battle I've been fighting.

But on this Friday night the Holy Spirit had a plan to minister to my heart from a most unexpected source: a cheesy a Hallmark movie.

You see I thought the movie was about finding a Christmas tree, but it was really about two characters who had both experienced loss. One dealt with the loss by shutting themselves off and avoiding anything that stirred up painful memories of the one they loved. The other used those memories to honor and celebrate the life of the one she loved. The message in the movie was that you show your love for the one that you lost by doing the things they loved to do and remembering them with love as you do it.

Even though it seems like a strange avenue, the Holy Spirit really used this movie to set me free from the Christmas guilt that the enemy wanted to use to steal my joy.

The truth is that my Mom loved Christmas. She loved the lights, the trees, making cookies, buying special gifts, and doing things for others. Even though I'll never understand why she had to suffer through so many painful Christmases with my Dad, I do know that on her last Christmas here on earth she said, “I'm done being controlled by his moods, I'm going to celebrate.” And we did, and she loved it.

So why would this same woman want me to spend my holidays bound in fear and anger, grief and guilt? She wouldn't.

And being happy doesn't mean I didn't love her. That's a lie from the enemy.

Instead, loving her means doing the things she taught us, following Gods principles for healing, gaining freedom, enjoying life, living Christmas and sharing our testimony with the world.

Anything else is just a lie from the enemy who wants to kill steal and destroy. But I reject that in favor of abundant life!

Why am I sharing this?

Well, in a world filled with grief and loss I'm sure I am not the only person to have this struggle. (I mean, obviously, they made a whole movie about it.).

Just like the sad man in the movie needed someone else to share a different perspective so that he could experience healing, I want to share what the Holy Spirit has been teaching me so that you can experience healing.

The truth is I get it---loss and grief make the holidays difficult and painful. If it’s a new loss, then this Christmas is going to have some pain. However, it isn’t God’s will for you to spend the next five, ten, fifteen, twenty years trapped in the pain of grief or believing the lies of guilt.

What I’m learning is that even though the pain of grief is real, healing and the ability to move forward is also very real and available through Jesus.

The big truth I’m learning this year is that it is okay to move forward---it’s actually healthy. No one, including the one you lost, wants you to spend the rest of your life in grief with a wall around your heart shutting off all happiness and joy.

Instead, there comes a point where we need to lay aside our grief and guilt and honor the legacy of those we love by celebrating—by remembering who they were when they were here and the memories we created with them.

We need to embrace joy again, love again, laugh again, and celebrate the season again. Even if a tear shows up from time to time among the laughter, that’s okay.

Your tear shows you loved

Your memory shows they lived.

Your celebration is their legacy…so let's make it a good one.

That’s what I’m determining to do this year.

I’m throwing off guilt and telling the enemy to just “Shut his mouth.”

I am going to celebrate just like my Mom taught me to do.

Because that’s the legacy she left Jamie and I: that Jesus heals and wants us to share His healing with the world.

So bring on the holidays---this girl is ready to rejoice!

To Read More About Our Journey to Healing, read Finding Healing.

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