Adessa and I love to watch Christmas movies. I am a HUGE Christmas guy. One of Adessa’s favorite movies is a Lifetime movie (yes I watch Hallmark Christmas movies, and no you can’t have my man card!) that has a character in it who leaves her house decorated and lights turned on all year long. Jokes are made about this woman throughout the movie, but at the end we learn why she had Christmas year round. She tells a main character that the man she loved had introduced her to his fiancé on Christmas Eve over twenty years ago, and for her, the loss crippled her. Her grief made her stay at Christmas Eve forever.
Grief has a way of stopping us cold. Because of the pain, we stay where we are, unable to handle moving forward. I know firsthand.
You see, after my mom passed away, Adessa and I were forced to start over and start a new life. We had to find friends, find a support system, and grow our ministry. We went from being bloggers while we took care of mom and kept dad from abusing her to full-time ministers. We spent every ounce of our energy and strength doing this. We were able, with God’s help to start over with our “careers”. But we didn't move forward with our lives.
Last Christmas season God started pointing this out to me. As the holidays rolled in, we had more time off the road at home. During this time, the Holy Spirit decided to do a little spiritual surgery on my heart to deal with some scar tissue from the grief that wasn't healed properly in my life. What do I mean?
Well, the best way to sum it up would be to apply it to Christmas. When I was a kid and a young adult, I LOVED Christmas. I was Mr. Christmas, wearing my Santa hat, listening to Christmas music, decorating anything and everything that moved. I was Buddy the Elf, Clark Griswald, and Tim the Toolman Taylor rolled into one---you get the idea. But then our family started down the decade long, very dark season full of hurt, pain, deeper levels of abuse…just a really hard, painful time. Things like Christmas took a back seat as we dealt with the daily torment we were living in.
Then there was the first Christmas after my mom died. Full of grief and sorrow, we didn’t really even try to celebrate Christmas. The next few years were similar, each year adding a little bit more Christmas activity but still not embracing the holiday. To avoid the pain, I would usually work all day on Christmas…better to be busy than to feel the grief.
Two years ago my mentor pretty much demanded we take off work for Christmas. Man was I mad at him! But I submitted, and we reintroduced Christmas into our lives. For the first time in at least fifteen years, we put up a tree. We decorated the inside of our house, and we bought each other presents. I won’t lie, it was hard, but I forced myself to celebrate Christmas…and some healing began to take place!
Then last year, we fully embraced Christmas. We watched cheesy Hallmark movies, Christmas music rang through our house, the whole nine yards. For the first time in a long time, the old Jamie was back…and I liked having him around again!
Now don’t think this was just a holiday nostalgia or the script for another cheesy Hallmark film...it wasn’t really about Christmas. The Holy Spirit began to show me that over the years, through all the grief, loss, abuse, hurts, pain, and horror our lives went through, I had erected a wall around my heart.
Sure, I was great at dreaming when it came to ministry! I love to dream and allow the Holy Spirit to plant visions and dreams of how to use our ministry to reach more men….I am good at that. But dreaming in my personal life…not so much. No one, nothing, was gone hurt me again! I was done feeling, and I was definitely done dreaming, personal disappointment hurt too much! I was stuck knee-deep in the mud surrounding Mt. Grief.
But this December, the Holy Spirit started showing me that this was no way to live! He showed me my identity can’t be from what I do, it had to come from him. He opened my eyes to see that I had stopped doing the one thing people need to have hope…dream.
It reminded me of the Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises…one of my favorites! In that movie, Bane throws Bruce Wayne into the pit with no ceiling and no way to escape. He says:
“There's a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth... Hope. Every man who has ventured here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy... So simple... And like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died trying. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope”[if !supportFootnotes][endif]
Grief and pain caused me to give up on hope, because it hurt too bad. But my Heavenly Father showed me that this was wrong. I had to begin hoping again, feeling again, allowing myself to be excited again. I have to start living again and enjoying life.
He has given me a really good life, I am living my dream! It is okay to be happy. It is okay to take time to have fun. I need to begin enjoying my personal life as much as I do my ministry life.
Grief had caused me to stop living. It caused me to stop dreaming. I needed to dream again! I was always a born dreamer, but the hurt and pain of unrealized dreams and grief over the years caused me to stop dreaming. But I have come to realize this self-protecting mechanism has been robbing life from me. Enough was enough; it was time to live again! It was time to dream again!
I share this with you to encourage you that you can conquer grief that is crippling your life. There is hope for you. Don’t cut off your heart and emotions to ease the pain. It doesn’t ease it, it just buries it. And slowly, it kills your spirit. You’ve stayed at Mt. Grief too long!
As you've followed Adessa's posts this season, you've seen that we have conquered Mt. Grief---and you can, too. Through the power of the Holy Spirit it is possible to live again---and enjoy life again.
You can conquer any mountain---through God you are Invincible.
This is an excerpt from Jamie's upcoming book, "Invincible". To read more from Jamie, check out his many books at the 4One Ministries bookstore.
The Dark Knight Rises; Christopher Nolan; Warner Bros., DC Entertainment; 2012[endif]