On Faith, Christmas and Real Life

On Faith, Christmas and Real Life
Some time around middle-ish part of your life, not the precise mathematical middle (who’s to know?), but, when it feels like you’ve been doing this life-thing for a good while, things start to get uncomfortable. You start to ask all sorts of questions.

You may find yourself looking around, forced to reevaluate how you’ve spent the last 20 or so years; where you’ve put your faith, and most importantly what you will do with what time remains.

This Is It…?

One of the most common and heartbreaking laments I hear from women who are approaching forty is, “I thought things would be different when I got here.” If this is you, relax, you’re not alone.

It creeps up on virtually everyone, male or female.

We thought we’d be richer or have kids, or be married or have traveled more or own a house or be a CEO. We thought we’d happier and smarter and instead we feel like we’ve aged and not advanced our goals.

This discomfort is normal.  The key is to not stay in this mood of failed expectations.

Evaluation is a sign that you’re right on track. Half of what we do, we really only understand in hindsight. What we value now may and should change as we mature and learn. Remember your twenties? Yeah. Not the same priorities as now.

The author Richard Rohr talks about how we spend the first half of our lives preparing for the second half and they are very different approaches to living.

“The first journey is always about externals formulas superficial emotions, flags and badges, correct rituals, Bible quotes and special clothing, all of which substitute for actual spirituality.

Rohr calls it building “the container”. Our second half of life is to  turn our focus from building the container, to what we want to fill that container with.

A Large Empty Container Is Not The Goal

“The task of the second half of life is, quite simply, to find the actual contents that this container was meant to hold and deliver. As Mary Oliver puts it, What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? In other words, the container is not an end in itself, but exists for the sake of your deeper and fullest life, which you largely do not know about yourself! Far too many people just keep doing repair work on the container itself and never “throw their nets into the deep” (John 21:6) to bring in the huge catch that awaits them.”

We start to crave and demand meaningful choices. We start to consciously make decisions based on what meaning they bring to our lives – the world legacy starts to pop up.

Meaning is always to attached to human connection

Human connection requires faith.

Decemberist Faith 

This time of year Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza all highlight the feel-good part of religious celebration. Each with unique, miracle-filled origins and meaningful rituals.

Maybe it hasn’t been the most wonderful time of  the year since you were a kid, if ever. And, while we need to rest, to revel in rituals, connect, sing and have more twinkle lights our lives, things are never that simple.

Mental illness, grief, frightening diagnoses, financial stress, loss, family drama- these affect each of us in one way or another.  At Christmas it can seem unbearable.  The normal stuff – raising kids, work, traveling, social media – can induce feelings of despair.

To keep moving forward requires faith.

Faith that you’ll make the right decisions, that things will work out.  Faith in God or a Higher Power. Faith in the health care system. Faith in mankind.

Whatever it looks like, your faith is achingly personal. It might be asking you difficult questions right now.  But, this is good.

This is the process of finding what needs to be put into your container. You’re filling it with wisdom and purpose for your one wild and precious life.

Author Christa Hesselink talks about her journey of faith on the Camino di Santiago. Click here to read about Fierce-Hearted Faith.

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