Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween

"Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do that; 
Hate can not drive out hate, only love can do that. 
{martin luther king}


Growing up, we never "celebrated" Halloween. We stayed inside with our lights off. Usually we'd do our own special family thing, and honestly we didn't really feel like we missed much.  In fact, early on my parents sat us all down and we watched a documentary on what Halloween was really all about. I can still remember a lot of it and to this day, I am still not a fan of the holiday. At some point in elementary school, my class was asked to write a paragraph about what Halloween meant to us, and while all of the other kids were writing about candy and costumes, I wrote about the history and rituals that Halloween was really about. I remember the teacher looked at me like I was crazy when she read it. Makes me laugh now.

I really think my parents generation has come a long way with religion and while our basic beliefs have never changed, I think that more than strict rules and hostile guidelines, FREEDOM seems to be more evident in the Christian faith now a days.

Not in the sense that lines are blurred but definitely in the sense of acceptance and open arms, and personal conviction.

I don't like the word religion. I don't consider myself or our family to be religious. Instead we live a life in pursuit of God. In pursuit of people, because of a God who loves them. And I don't think that strict rules and hostile guidelines are what will draw them in. I think forgiveness, and love and acceptance is.  I don't want religion for myself or my kids. I want relationship.

Fast forward to Halloween this year. I felt my heart was different in how I looked at it. In years past, I would turn my nose up at people who went trick or treating. How dare they call themselves christians and then take their kids trick or treating!

So dumb. So judemental.

Over this last year God has definitely taken me on a journey of freedom. Not just in my own sense of self, and confidence and away from worry of what others think of me, but in the way I look at others too. I feel like God has created us each different and unique in order to fulfill a calling specific to us. And in that same note, He's given us our own convictions, thoughts, ideas, and opinions.

With that revelation, I've really been able to free up a part of my heart that felt like it was my job to convict people, or even change them. It's not. What is my job is to love them.
Whether I think that what they say or do is right...Love them.
Maybe I really don't like what they're doing, or how they live, maybe I don't agree with it...
Love them anyway.



This year, for the first time in my entire life, I did something with my kids that I never have before....we carved a pumpkin. I know its crazy but at nearly 31 years old, I have never carved a pumpkin. I just never did before because that was something that was part of the history and rituals of halloween that as christians we just didn't do.

I have to be honest that I still felt a little weird about it. It's hard to re-program yourself from something you've believed for most of your life. something you thought was "wrong." And I definitely had a moment where I questioned whether it was the right thing. Did I lead my kids down a road that I wouldn't know how to navigate? open a door to questions I wouldn't know how to answer? Where exactly do we draw the line?

We carved an owl. It wasn't anything scary. While I have opened my heart to the freedom of our own convictions, I definitely don't think that subjecting my kids to witches, and ghosts and evil skeletons is in our Halloween future. I work hard as a mom to protect their precious hearts and minds and eyes from things that could perpetuate fear, so I think that that part of halloween is something we will always steer clear of.

I don't have this all figured out. I don't have the perfect answers to give. I still don't like Halloween. But I do know that closing doors is not the answer. I know that turning my nose up is not the answer. I know that I want to love people no matter what. I want them to see something different in me and in and our family, and be drawn to it. Not away from it. And I know, above anything else, that that is God's heart for his people here on earth. To draw them unto Him.

What I, as a mother, want most for my children is balance. I truly think there can be so many extremes when it comes to christianity.  But I want them to be so rooted in their own relationship with Jesus that when the world throws up some crazy temptation or questions their beliefs, they'll not only turn to Him, but turn others to Him. I want them to live with conviction and I want them to live with love.

I think if we could loosen our grip on what we think is "so right" or "so wrong" and open our eyes and hearts to the world around us...to a world that needs what we have, then God's love would be more greatly shown. 

Every year its become a tradition to go to my grandmas house on Halloween. We eat chili, and the kids wear their costumes and get candy. They don't go trick or treating and when the door bell rings,  they don't pass out the candy.

But this year, I decided...How silly is that? Why is one thing ok (dressing up), but another isn't (trick or treating.) What was my heart saying about this in not allowing my kids to do those things? Did I think I was better or holier? I sure cringe to think that may have ever been my heart.

I think it is so significant that in both passing out candy and trick or treating, people are opening their doors. For maybe one of the few times of the year,  people of all walks and all religions are opening their doors without hesitation. Why, as people who love Jesus and carry His light, would we not open ours too?

What tells a louder story of God's love? Turning out lights and shutting the doors, or opening them and shining His light with our actions and words? I have been asking myself this question.

In the end I think we each have to decide for ourselves where to draw the line. We have to look in our own hearts and discern why we are doing or not doing something. I for one want to live a life of conviction based on my relationship with God. A true, revelation of his love and grace for me. Not condemnation or judgement, or fear of what others will think.

I can't say I've got it all figured out yet, but I know God's began something in my heart that has nothing to do with the hype of Halloween. I want to look past rituals, rules and religion, and I want to see people the way God seems them. And some of those people? Some of them are so lost. I just can't help feeling the burden to share the hope and GRACE of a God who truly loves them.

In the end, that is what truly matters isn't it?


xo, 
Laura 



9 comments:

  1. Thank you for your openness. I know this probably wasn't easy to share but it touched me. That part about not judging but loving them and finding freedom in this revelation - I can so relate. I come from a background where we were brought up that wearing pants was wrong for ladies. And I acted similarly about it, the way you described your reaction to Christians who took part in Halloween. Within the past two years I have felt that freedom. And it has been liberating. To love, to accept others and to find whoever it is that God created you to be.

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  2. I have to say that I was very proud, Anjoleena was very excited to pass out Southhillsnwsa cards with the candy we were handing out. :-) It is very fulfilling to know that my girls enjoy attending church as I did when I was their age. <3 Shawnette

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  3. Thanks for writing this. This Halloween like the last I nearly had an anxiety attack. I'm still confused on what the right thing to do is as a Christian on Halloween. I don't want xenon growing up being confused. Actually I did want to call you but I didnt want to interupt your family time. We did dress him up but we didn't take him trick or treating. I grew up celebrating halloween, so did X. I honestly don't know but I do know that I certainly do not want to go through this again next Halloween.

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  4. I can't condemn those who don't celebrate because then I would be the pot calling the kettle black. I'm the sinner for celebrating and their the people hiding their light under a bushel as I see it. As many legalistic people as there are I'm sure there are lots who do not celebrate out of true conviction. We probably don't see them because they're not loud about it. They're the ones who have been in more soup kitchens as a witness than I know what soup kitchens exist. I cannot disrespect my parents decision to take me to harvest parties so I can have fun without being confused by evil. They did it to protect me. We celebrate with non evil things and trick or treat but then the verses regarding in the world and not of the world and all things lawful but not expedient come to mind… and I have to think. As the lines between good and evil become more blurred in television and media and culture in general we might have to review our policy. Everything is not relative as the world seems to think. I respect those who are willing to be not normal as the world is concerned. Loving hearts are there whether you celebrate Halloween or not. The heart has to be loving first and then all action regarding these blurry lines will come out of it. It's a great reason to dig into the Bible. I think if I really did I would be more convicted to avoid it. Just because my neighbors don't realize the roots of the holiday doesn't make what I know not valid. I'm sure there are some creative and neighborly ways to get into this issue. I think if I am truly personally convicted it won't matter what anyone thinks of what I do because I feel grounded in the Bible and what God thinks is the only thing that really matters.

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  5. I am not a big fan of Halloween either. We let the kids trick or treat and decorate a pumpkin and that's about it. I saw a great blog post a few weeks ago that helped me to see it as an outreach opportunity as well. I set up a table with coffee and cider for the adults this year. You know what? It was sort of fun. I still don't get excited about Halloween but got to chat with a couple neighbors and just be loving which was great!

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  6. Thank you for writing this. I, too, grew up spending Halloween in similar ways and it has been hard to think of it in any other way. This year, I have come across quite a few different blog posts challenging Christians to open up their doors, because this is the one time a year that our neighbors actually come knocking. Such a powerful conviction. Thank you for sharing your heart. xoxo

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  7. I adore this post! We never did anything for Halloween growing up. My parents turned discouraged it, and we would have to be quiet with as many lights as possible turned off, so no one would knock. For them it wasn't a religious objection, they were just very insular. Didn't want people in their business, because you never know what those littles might report back to their parents! Not that there was ever very many kids out for it.

    Now I relish the opportunity to open my door, to talk to my neighbour, to share that recognition that I have seen them at school, or at the store. Or that I was at their house earlier in the night with my littles. It gets people talking, socialising, meeting each other little no other night of the year. I love that!

    But I'm the girl that gets excited when she sees a moving truck bringing new neighbours to our street, so much so that I immediately start baking cookies to give to them. I'm also the girl that feels hurt when they don't return my enthusiasm when I knock on their door. I long for that old fashioned sense of community, where people actually take the time to get to know each other, not avoid making eye contact when they are out the front of their houses.

    Sorry I got a little off topic!

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  8. I actually just had a conversation with a group of friends about this. Some grew up celebrating some didn't. My parents were pretty strict rowing up about shows and things but trick or treating we could do. (Except one year our church had a harvest party and we dressed up as Biblical characters.. which is really hard to do because all the costumes looked the same) In the end my parents felt that they were not many nights our neighbors were going to come knocking at our door (they were church planters) and this was a great opportunity for community. That always stuck with me and while I am not a fan of all that goes with it, I am happy for the opportunities it gives us with people that we might not have otherwise. On a other note since I have been married we have never carved a pumpkin, my only excuse is laziness and if we don't carve them they last a little ways into November. Boom... double pumpkin win.

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