The Meaning of Christmas

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After spending an hour sorting food donations for families at Christmas, the youth of the church I attend and work at went back to the church for some prayer.  It was lovely and I enjoyed seeing the kids let this message really sink in.

I think that this passage from Matthew 25 really shows the meaning of Christmas.  Whether you consider yourself a Christian or not, I think that most people can get behind the notion of helping others whenever you can.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Blog creator, Jessica, answers: “What would you tell your younger self?”

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baby me

I guess it is my turn.  I have had a few entries over the last year that women in my life have submitted under this category of “What would you tell your younger self?”  This thought for me is constantly changing.  It is usually shaped by whatever I am going through at the time or certain things I have observed.  My life experiences have varied and I have been a witness to happenings that even as little as five years ago I could have never imagined.  Therefore, let me say that by no means is this all of the advice I could give to my younger self, but it is what I feel I can share today.  I hope that through this blog and through what I have written below, you can find comfort, similarity in your life or that of a friend and feel like you are not alone.  I do not think that I live with regrets, but if I was given the chance to change a few things, I think I would.  I have faith that I was destined to be wher

e I am today and that I am destined to be wherever I am at the end of my life, so I do not worry that changing things in my past will have affected my end result like some people do.  I am happy with where I am and I am so blessed with those in my life.  And so I begin with a letter to myself…

Dear Jessie,

You always thought about what it would be like to be 27 years old, but you never could really picture it.  You thought you would be married, which you are, and you thought you would have kids, which you don’t.  The only person you really pictured yourself as at this age was Barbie, and well…you were a little off, but that’s ok!

There are some things I wish I could have told you, but it’s a little late for that.  Instead, I will share these tidbits in the hopes that someone else might feel a connection and take something from what I have to say.  But don’t worry Jessie, you are doing just fine and those you love and look up to are still standing by you, 100%.

Love, Jessica.

What I would tell my younger self:

-Everything mom and dad told you was right!  I know you have to learn for yourself, but remember that there is a good reason (or two!) that they say the things they do.

-Be happy you don’t look like everyone else.  Here are some compliments people will give you about those odd little things you are not sure you appreciate: “I love that you have these moles (pointing to my shoulder, chest and upper lip).  I like them.” (friend in high school); “You have the best neck.” (husband); “You remind me of a young Ingrid Bergman.  You have the same sparkle in your eye.”(shuttle driver in California); “You’re thick in a good way.'” (athlete at school).  Some of those compliments may seem silly, but everyone appreciates something different so be you and let people figure out why you’re great on their own.

-Never sell yourself short.  In high school, you let school take a back seat to your social life.  Frankly, looking back, I think you could’ve had a social life, played sports and still earned straight A’s.

-Don’t let one thing, like having a boyfriend, run your life and forget about everything or everyone else.  The first person you date will most likely not be your last!

-Friends always want to be there for you.  Let them.  Be loyal to them and never say anything about someone behind their back that you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying to their face.

-Be kind.  Always.  Remember how it hurts when others tease you.  Don’t take for granted that you have supports – seek out lonely people and befriend them.

-Drinking can be fun, but so can not drinking.  Know your limit so that you stay true to yourself…and thank God facebook and twitter did not exist when you were in middle and high school.

-Do not dress for others to notice you.  Dress for yourself.  Your skirt does not need to be shorter and your tops do not need to be tighter.  The right boys will notice you for you – not how much skin you show.

-Don’t lie to your parents.

-Respect your teachers and your coaches.  Even if you don’t agree with everything they say or do, respect them.  ***Side note – I never disrespected my parents by yelling at them or belittling them.  When I see kids talk back rudely, curse or act condescendingly to their parents (I am talking about good, kind, appropriate parents) it makes me feel sick.  Do NOT do that to your mom and dad.  It does not make you cool and it will not get you very far in life to treat others like that.  You can never replace family so don’t push them away.

-Don’t be afraid to be silly!

-Dance at the school dances.

-Throw “the rules” out the window!  If you want to go out with someone, ask them.  If you want to dance with someone, ask them.  The worst that can happen is they say, “no,” and you move on.  Don’t wait around for someone to call you – if you want to talk to them, call them!

-Hug your friends when you see them, and hug them goodbye if you want to.  Everyone wants to feel wanted.  Show them you’re happy they showed up and that you can’t wait to see them again.

-Tell people what’s on your mind.  If you want someone to know how they make you feel, tell them.  If you want to tell someone that you are proud of them, tell them!  No one can read minds and it feels so good when someone let’s you know something intimate like how you’ve impacted their life.

-Do not live in fear.

-Make decisions that you can be proud of.

-Know that when things don’t go the way you planned, everything will still be ok.  You are who you are, and you can do anything.

-Make yourself indispensable in everything you do.  Work hard and you will be noticed.

-Don’t doubt yourself and always trust your gut feeling.

-Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

-Don’t forget that you are loved.

…I would want her to be herself.

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An interesting thought was brought to my attention the other day.  Why do magazines print articles on beauty, fashion and lifestyle, essentially telling us how we should look and act, but then have feature articles on being true to ourselves?  Kind of counter-intuative if you ask me.  But let’s be honest, I am a sucker for magazines.  I refuse to buy the tabloid-style magazines because I don’t want to help fund such a disgustingly voyeuristic trend.  In fact, I pretty much gag when I see a headline that reads something like, “See which stars have cellulite and have let themselves go and OMG HOW FAT CAN SHE GET??”  Really??  Are we so bad that things like this sell?  Do we like to read stuff like that because we feel better about ourselves or do we like to see other women fall from the spotlight?  Whatever the reason, it’s selling because they are doing so much business that they sell weekly editions.  I like to buy magazines that focus on style trends because it helps me have fun in my closet, magazines that contain meaningful articles that make me think or magazines that have comediennes I love as the feature article.  It is true, even of the magazines that I love, that there are always contradicting messages to us gals.

So how do we work on our own self-esteem so that we can enjoy magazines without being negatively affected by their mixed messages?  It’s a hard thing to do sometimes, but we have to love ourselves every single minute of every single day.  If you are a good person and can be proud of the things that you do on a daily basis, that is the best place to start.  Self-esteem isn’t about feeling good about your appearance.  It’s about being confident in the person that you are, down to your core.  I find confidence in the fact that I love to help others.  I try to treat everyone with kindness and I always try to put some humor into my day.

I’ve had my moments where I wanted to make some changes to my life.  For example, I have these conflicting personalities where one half of me is a free-spirited-hippie-feminist-earth child and the other half is a domestic-conservative-old soul.  So, on one of my earth child days I decided I wanted to make my outside reflect my inside.  I went down to 4th avenue in Tucson and started trying on all of these flowy long skirts and hemp-woven sweaters.  I had all these great outfits put together, but then looked at myself in the mirror wearing what looked like potato sack after potato sack layered on top of one another (not to mention everything in there smelled like dirt, ergo I smelled like dirt), and I was thinking, “Who am I kidding?” and I burst out laughing in the change room.  Contrary to what you might think I did not get weird looks for laughing uncontrollably by myself–they probably thought I had inhaled a a little too much while wearing the hemp sweater.

I have learned that it’s ok that if the majority of the time I look, in my husband’s words, “way too conservative”.  My outside doesn’t have to reflect whatever personality I am feeling that day because I know who I am and how I feel.  I may wake up feeling like a bra-burning feminist, but I will still put on my bra because you just need support underneath a sequined cardigan.  See what I mean about conflicting personalities?

I know what I am capable of and I don’t need to prove it to strangers who see me walking down the street.  I would by lying if I said I didn’t have struggles with loving every part of me all the time, but I have worked on getting to the point where I can appreciate every part of me and love the person it makes me as a whole.  If I had walked out of the store looking bohemian when I am clearly more comfortable in a lightweight cardigan, people would know they had spotted a fake.  Confidence is the most attractive thing one can wear and the way you achieve it is through being yourself.