My Capital-T Truth

Dear humans who read this,

I hope that the holidays treat you well. I hope they are filled with joy and love, and that all your dreams come true. I hope you look back on December 2015 as one of the best times of your life, and that you move forward into 2016 with renewed energy and hope.

But if you are struggling, if you feel alone or depressed or abandoned or empty, if darkness surrounds you and you don’t see a light ahead in your future, lift up your eyes.

There is always hope in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of Him, we never need lose faith in a better tomorrow. His Atonement will make up for every unfair thing in this life. It is with His light that I have survived some of the darkest nights of my life. I know that He loves me, and if He loves me, then He certainly loves you, too.

Don’t give up. There is always light ahead. I understand hopelessness, and the anger that can result from it. I have turned from God and lashed out at Him in prayer, blaming Him for struggles and pains that we all inevitably face in our earth life. I know that He knows me by name, and He is constantly aware of me, of my desires and my needs. He knows me better than I know myself, and still He loves me.

Hold on to that hope. Take whatever embers of light you have inside you and let His love make them brighter. I testify that good will triumph over evil. I feel it deep in my bones, an undeniable truth in my soul. He will come again, and He will bring peace and rest for His faithful children.

This is the greatest gift I can give to you, my readers: I give you my testimony of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, my Savior. He lives, He loves us, and we can choose every day to follow Him and let Him heal us.

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and an amazing new year!

Much much love,

Maney

What Santa Taught Me This Year

Every year my parents instruct us to write a note to Santa to put with the milk and cookies. This year I was the only child who conceded, but only because I had the ulterior motive of pointing the finger of blame at a certain jolly old man. I wrote a letter to him asking questions like, “Does it ever bother you that people sometimes compare you to Jesus Christ?” “Why do you keep buzzing around the world ever year in 2014? Don’t you feel like kids lose their innocence way before they can even enjoy your existence?” These questions were followed by a call to action to use his resources to stop feeding consumerism and actually help better the world. Ho ho ho.

This was Santa’s response, though the writing style is very similar to my father’s.

Dear [Maney],

You ask hard questions, and they have troubled me too for many years. Before I offer you an answer, I think I should clear up a misapprehension about my nature. I am a legend, a myth, a magical being, and a one-trick pony.

I am what humans have made me, and I cannot change myself unless the stories about me change. I do one thing and I do it with power and craft. I cannot take upon myself the lofty goals you suggest, as I have no free will. That is left for the humans, and it is the source of their power and tragedy.

That said, I do what I can when I’m not wearing the red suit. I read to kids in cancer wards. I serve soup to lost men and women. I am a ferocious knitter and I whip up warm hats and hand them out in snowstorms. I know about “think globally act locally,” [Maney], and I take very seriously any comparisons to the Prince of Peace. I strive to live up to the image.

But I cannot change the world. I have no power there. You humans have all the power, [Maney], and I hear you shouting “Cop out!” but it’s not. It’s the design. Stories are not actions. Actions create stories. Because of good saints and long-ago acts of good will, I am who I am. But you can be anything, and all of you can be naughty or nice at will, at your whim. I envy you.

I also stole some eggnog. Mmm. Thanks for the cookie. My best to the others and see you next year.

PS. I do watch, you know. Keep up the good work. You and each of you are of inestimable worth.

* * *

So, dear Readers, I hope your Christmas (or other assorted holidays and celebrations) was merry and bright. Here’s a music video I whipped together this year. It’s super high quality. 😉

What We Need

(Obviously many of you are spending December in different ways. I wish I could be more politically correct with this blog, but I’ve celebrated Christmas my entire life, and I can only write about what I know. I’m sorry.)

I feel a constant pressure to be better. It’s partly my mental illnesses and partly my environment. Wanting to be better is good in healthy degrees; however, it must be kept within a realistic perspective. Mental illness can mess with that. My mission these last few years has been to love myself with all the flaws and strengths that make me unique.

During the holidays, there seems to be an increase in the mood of those around me, while symptoms of my depression and anxiety cause me to appear Grinch- and Scrooge-like in comparison. Everyone seems to run around in a blur of candy canes and sparkling ribbon–it makes me want to decrease the surplus population, if you know what I mean.

It becomes too much. The normal buzz of inadequacy is enhanced to torturous noise noise noise noise. Where is the heavenly peace the songs talk about? How do we average and lonely and anguished folks find the promised joy?

I try to focus on what uplifts me. I tune out the laughter and chatter if it becomes too much to bear. I watch the twinkling lights and think of somewhere safe. I tell myself the red and white wrapping isn’t just a mark of consumerism, but a symbol of something deeper. It’s possible that this holiday still centers around Jesus Christ, my Savior. Even if none of what I tell myself is true, and I believe it is true, it gives me peace. He gives me hope. So I choose the better story.

However you’re celebrating (or not celebrating) this time of year, I hope you get from it what you need.

And it’s possible that you need Him.

Love you all and merry Christmas! If you don’t celebrate Christmas, and I know many don’t, I wish you a wonderful and magical and happy time of year anyway. 🙂 Be kind to yourselves.

Concerning Love

Christmas is coming up and it makes me wonder what I want from Santa. People keep reminding me that Christmas is nine days away, eight days away, one week away… but for some reason, the actual day of opening presents doesn’t mean as much to me as it used to. A lot of my loved ones are far away this season, and I know that packages tied up with bows won’t fill the hole in my heart.

I recently talked to my counselor about caring for the people in my life. Our conversation made me think about how grateful I am to have people to love, despite the sadness and longing I feel when thinking of them. I’m so blessed to be able to love after everything I’ve been through. I have a freakish capacity to love–and it opens my heart to feel freakish amounts of pain. I can count on one hand the people I know who love as deeply as I do. It’s a gift and a curse. 

So although Santa can’t bring my friends and family home, this Christmas I love and am loved. That’s the best gift I could never ask for. I can be courageous, compassionate, and connected. I can live a wholehearted life–we all can. Even though it’s scary to open my heart, I won’t give up on love. Love makes us human; love makes us immortal. As Toulouse screams from the rafters, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”