As the year-end holidays approach—beginning with Thanksgiving, which is immediately followed by a swirl of Christmas activities—a pall descends on many women, one that is hard to put into words. Despite the sparkle of festive tables, the kindness of total strangers, and the crisp air laden with palpable excitement, this time of year brings a sort of nameless angst that weighs on our spirits.
No matter how far we roam from our roots, holidays that center on family and memories pierce our souls and throw us back into a frame of mind that recalls many difficult moments and challenging personalities, creating havoc for Christians who know that they—of all people—should be of good cheer.
Why are we not at peace, believing firmly that the Son of Man has come to set things aright?
It’s entirely possible that Christ’s coming has not penetrated the recesses of our souls because of unfortunate mental barriers. These defenses were often not of our own making, but necessary walls thrown up to deal with injuries of all sorts over the years.
Life is messy, and people do all sorts of unfortunate things in a fallen world. Not only that, but many of these same people are still in our lives—and showing up for these same glittery feasts. Even if they’re no longer present, they’re never really forgotten—in fact the holiday season fast approaching is the very time when such memories are stirred up and grip us afresh. This, indeed, is what turns the joy to jitters and the gladness to gloom.
The answer lies in forgiveness, which is not the quick and dismissive act that many think it is. Neither is it a burial of hazards in a distant field that a person avoids as he would a toxic waste dump. As foundational as forgiveness is to the Christian life, it is astonishing how misunderstood the process can be—and yet it is the path to authentic peace when done properly, through Christ. Not only is it a path to serenity and joy, but it’s the ground zero of a whole new fearless way of life.
Maybe the coming weeks would be a very good time to assess your reactions to particular people, memories, or places in order to discern what the triggers in your life might be. Then in the quiet of the new year, consider who and what set you on edge, and bravely ask the necessary question: why. Although there is much that is out of your control—you are not. You can become free of the ties that bind by taking seriously God’s call to forgiveness.
When the frenzy has passed and you have a moment to reflect, perhaps your New Year’s resolution will become obvious: “This is the year I will be set free.” All things are possible with God, and he wants it more than you do!
Post by guest blogger Genevieve Kineke, author the new book Set Free: The Authentic Catholic Woman’s Guide to Forgiveness from Servant Books.
Genevieve is the founding editor of Canticle, a magazine for Catholic women. A featured speaker at numerous women’s conferences, she also conducts retreats and workshops on authentic Catholic womanhood. She can be found online at feminine-genius.com.