I’m usually not the type to despair, but sometimes I do. Here is the thing that fills my heart with sorrow.
Our world is in one of its most trying times in existence. International borders closed, families and friends kept physically isolated for extended periods of time, bushfires and hurricanes, unknown and highly contagious diseases, injustice and violent protest. You’ve gotta wonder, what on earth could happen next? You hope for it to get better, but it’s very likely things will only continue to get worse.
In our relationships, it’s the repeated things that keep us together or drive us apart. The health of our love life depends on our success in breaking patterns of dysfunction.
Have you ever found yourself asking, “Why does this always happen to me?”. You may be stuck in a cycle, and if so, this one is for you.
Finding someone to call your life partner can be a journey and a half. I know for me it took many years of happiness and heartbreak, ups and downs, and a lot of learning about myself and others. My most recent post before this one about the music that has shaped my life took me on a trip down memory lane on a few of those. After you’ve gone through all that effort, you’d think that you’d finally be able to get your Disney ending, live happily ever after, sail off into the sunset. Fortunately, there can be a lot of happiness, but unfortunately, there’s a lot more work to be done from there.
Whatever type of connection it may be, this one could certainly end it – this is how the root of bitterness destroys relationships.
Source: Love – Alexander Milov
We live in uncertain times. Life continues to change. Interactions continue to be different. Expectations and reality stay at odds from each other. We’ve got to be physically distant whilst trying to maintain social connection. It’s one of those times where everything in your life is under a microscope from the pressure of the current day – your goals, your dreams, your contentment, your peace, your aspirations, and yes, your relationships.
When things go wrong in life, it can really put pressure on what’s already not so great in life.
A recent tragedy of domestic violence has highlighted the dark reality of many relationships, resounding to us that mental illness isn’t an excuse to be cruel or destructive.
What recent marital tragedy am I referring to? That would depend on where you live and when you are reading this. Unfortunately in every country at any point of the year, there are so many tragedies in relationships and marriages. Domestic violence, emotional or psychological abuse, and intentional cruelty ran rampant across our world today.
In the search for a partner, could you be pushing away the man of your dreams? Here are 7 things which push the good men away.
There are a few re-occurring seasons of life that put extra pressure and awareness on the state of your love life. Valentine’s Day is the obvious one, where every corner of marketing is covered in love (or anti-love, which still puts just as much pressure on). Christmas and birthdays are another time where the togetherness of others reminds you of whether or not you have a bae to call your own. New Year’s Eve, milestone events and achievements, season changes – all these things can be stabs in the heart with regards to a stunted love life. If you’re reading this one, it’s likely one of those seasons is pushing your buttons, or you know someone who’s experiencing this frustration.
One of the deepest questions of this season isn’t around presents, lights, carols or shops – it’s this: When will Christmas be happy?
Christmas really is one of the most unique times of the year. I’m walking around Australian shops in 40 degree heat and our country is currently facing a huge bushfire crisis, but at the same time, all the songs playing are about winter wonderlands and letting it snow and the carol of the winter bells… and everyone seems to find it completely normal. Shops are open later providing more opportunities to shop, and yet they’ve still been always full. Our politically correct world all of a sudden has no issue with religious figures or making comments about fat men with white beards.
It’s a time of feasting, presents, toys, traditions, big family
get togethers, lights, classic movies, and love. Or at least that’s what we
feel it should be. When Christmas is working, it works great, and the magic of
what Christmas could be is indeed alive and well. But when it’s not working so
well, you’re left wondering when will Christmas be happy.
Christmas brings with it a darker side every year. As with
anything that repeats every year, Christmas brings with it a magnifying glass
on the areas of your life that are less than you want them to be. It reminds
you of where you were this time last year and the years before that. Check out
some of these lesser known facts on how happy Christmas actually is for people:
Relationships Australia studies report that Christmas is in the top six stressful experiences in life, up there with moving house, divorce and changing jobs. About a third of respondents to their 2016 survey reported family relationships highly negatively affected by work-life balance and financial pressures of the season
A study by Age UK carried up in the leadup to Christmas found hundreds of thousands of older people who found themselves alone on Christmas day, and also who had not seen a single friend in over a month
The pressures of the upcoming holiday make December 11 the most likely day to break up
I think one of the most telling indicators of the loneliness and stress of Christmas are a few of the stories that get repeated every year. The third most popular Christmas song according to the Spotify numbers is Wham’s Last Christmas – a song of remorse and pain about the loss of love in the previous year. We have the story of the Grinch, a child who is rejected at Christmas and for every Christmas, so much so to the point that the only way he can handle the pain is by tearing down the happiness of others. And of course we have Ebenezer Scrooge, a man with a similar story – left alone at Christmas time, with breaks up with the love of his life at Christmas, spending his life angry at the world for what Christmas did to him.
I’ve always liked the movie Four Holidays (also known as Four
Christmases) which is a bit of a humourous depiction on the real state of
relationships at the time of Christmas. It’s about two people dating each other
who both come from broken homes and need to travel to four different places to
celebrate with everyone. It’s funny but surprisingly profound in presenting
what life’s reality is like for many people – family breakdown, relationships
that are unreconciled or have unaddressed issues, holiday-induced childhood
trauma, painful memories, how little we actually know about each other,
disparate dreams and goals – all thrown in the pressure cooker of the Christmas
When will Christmas be happy? When you look at the stats and the stories that resonate with people this time of the year, you can see why so many people are asking this question.
For me, Christmas has been a bit of a mixed bag. Some years have been really wonderful – others have been really hard. Some Christmases I remember laughing so hard I cried. Another Christmas comes to mind where I spent a few hours crying into the carpet in my living room, lying there overwhelmed with what was going on. The magnifying glass on relationships and where you are with your goals and dreams is often a challenging one to confront, especially when the key message of the season is to celebrate with joy. Sometimes, that can be furthest from the truth. Some years would be as blissful as a 90s Christmas movie. Others would be reminders of bad relationship breakdowns, of struggles to move forward in life, of wondering when it will be my turn, of wondering if certain things would ever be different.
I think it’s hard because all of us want to be happy. We want the holiday to be a time of celebration. We want the joy that we’ve been told our whole lives we should have at this time of the year. Even beyond the holiday season, we want our lives to look and be a certain way. I even recently wrote about that challenge of expectations vs. reality in my 2019 In Review post. When you want your life to look a certain way, when you’re single and you want to be married, when you’re heartbroken and you want to be whole, when you’re lonely and you want to be celebrated, when you want your broken relationships to be reconciled, when you have people and situations in your life that refuse to change – that’s when Christmas gets hard.
And all those things add up and start to prompt some of the
deepest and darkest concerns of the heart. If only someone would celebrate me.
If only someone would think me worth the effort. If only someone would give be
their best when I feel like I give others my best. If only the love I give
could be returned to be. If only…
If only we could see that this is what the Christmas message
Lost in commercialism, we forget a little child in a manger, born
to prove every insecurity I feel about myself is incorrect. In a world where I
may feel overlooked or unseen, Christmas proves that I am completely seen, that
I am worthy of the ultimate effort, that someone cares enough about me to reach
out to me and repair and restore what’s been broken. It tells me that I’m
loved, I’m worthwhile… Christmas shows me that I matter. You don’t need to do
anything for acceptance, but you can live a life from acceptance
We think this message is dated and irrelevant. We relegate it to
baby ceramic Jesus on the coffee table or in the Myer catalogue. Perhaps that’s
why we remain so unhappy. Perhaps that’s why I still think I’m unloved or
alone. Perhaps that’s why we can become like the Grinch or Scrooge and cope
with our pain by trying to blame or ruin the joy of others.
The true joy of Christmas is that I am celebrated and loved beyond
measure. A child born to die for the chance that I might live, and truly
Maybe that message doesn’t take away the bad things that have
happened in your life, the rejection you’ve faced, the painful things that
still exist in your life today. I think it’s important that we take the time to
face and process those feelings at Christmas time. Perhaps Christmas wouldn’t
be so painful if we took the time to process things properly throughout the
year rather than spending our lives avoiding them or trying to work around
them. We blame Christmas for reminding us of the things we’re trying to forget,
but maybe running from our problems isn’t going to bring us the peace we need.
Even amidst our challenges, what the message of Christmas does for
me is it shows me I never have to face anything alone. That Emmanuel isn’t just
a pretty name, but a reality that God is with us… if I’ll let him.
Have you ever had someone in your life who has refused you?
Rejected you? Taken your best and wasted it? Given your heart but the very next
day, they gave it away? Imagine if you were to do that to someone who cared for
you. This Christmas, don’t miss this gift. You are loved and desired more than
you could ever know.
I hope this Christmas that you don’t find yourself asking (or
asking again), “When will Christmas be happy?”. In the midst of what
you may have faced in your life, I hope that this holiday season you find to be
a time of restoration, of reconciliation, of new hopes and dreams. See the love
that surrounds you this season and indeed through every season of life.
“And I celebrate the day that you were born to die, that I
could one day pray for you to save my life.”
What do you do when it feels like there’s no one out there for you? Are we really in the middle of a Christian man drought?
It’s been a little while since I’ve last posted something here.
That’s because my wife and I have been in Europe for our anniversary. We went
across England, Ireland, France and Greece. From London to Stratford to Galway
to Paris to Athens, and even more places in between, we’re back and refreshed,
ready for the next chapter of life.
I returned from our holiday to find that the ABC published a super popular, highly resonate article regarding the man drought in the Christian community. I have written a few times about the perceived man drought in the past, but this article in particular seemed to reach far and wide across the faith community, scratching at a perceived reality that affects people to the core of who they are. This, coupled with Singles Day in China causing multiple billions’ dollars worth of sales on the Alibaba site alone, is definitely of note at this time of the year.
Call it narcissism, call it selfish, call it TPS – we see it in our society, but can we see it in our connections? Tall poppy syndrome is killing your relationships.
We’ve recently been rewatching Seinfeld of all shows. One that came on today was where Jerry, doing quite well financially, decides to buy his father a new car. Unfortunately for Jerry’s dad, it attracts the ire of some very jealous and sour people who see it as a status symbol and they vote him out of an important position as a result. This is a pretty good picture of exactly this reality that I’ve had in mind for a few weeks recently – that tall poppy syndrome is killing relationships all over the worlds today.
No two couples are alike, but we have more in common than you might think. Here are 8 ways all marriages are the same.
Marriage is the joining of two individuals together. If you’ve ever met two individuals and known them for any length of time, you would know that despite how similar even the most similar people are, they’re still worlds apart in a lot of ways. As such, you look at any couple, and you’ll see areas where they are vastly different from other couples – how they spend their time, what they do with their money, who earns more than who, who does what for the kids and the home, differing family circumstances, career pressures, physical location preferences, culture in the home, views on faith, and conflict resolution techniques… just to name a few.
Queenstown is always the popular place for those visiting the Land of the Long White Cloud, but here’s some other ideas on how to have a great time in New Zealand.
This isn’t really a travel blog, but I thought it was time to talk about our trip to New Zealand. It really is a great place. I’m not exactly a world traveler, but I have mentioned and written about my month in Japan going to 14 cities (including the northern most point), as well as my times in Hong Kong, mainland China in Zhongshan, and Macau. Last year I finally added New Zealand to the list, and what a stellar place it was. We went for our honeymoon after deciding Europe may have been too extreme after all the expenses of a wedding (although we’re coming for you!!).