Relationships 6 minutes to read

*TRIGGER WARNING–––Christmas is almost here!

This usually means many different things, coupled with many different emotions. Christmas can be the greatest time of the year and also the worst.

But, if you’re anything like me, you have things you like and don’t like about Christmas. One of the things I LOVE about Christmas is the opportunity to give gifts. I know you’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking, “There is no way anyone really enjoys giving gifts, right?” Well, sorry to tell you, you’re wrong.

I really do enjoy giving gifts. Ask my wife or my family—I usually find myself giving people their gifts before their birthday, before the anniversary, before Christmas Day (or even before Christmas Eve). I love giving gifts! I love making people feel happy and cared for. Gifts are one of the best ways I get to show love to my family and friends.

And let’s be honest, as a gift giver, there is nothing greater than when the recipient of your gift loves it! When you see their joy and happiness because of something you gave them, it’s like a drug! A good drug. The kind that doesn’t ruin your life.

One of the biggest revelations I’ve had over the last few years of my recovery has been the value of my sexual health. Not just the value for me, but more so, the value for others around me. I think this is something we often forget or sweep under the bushy Christmas rug that collects all the dog hair and you wish you could just throw out with the trash. Sorry, got carried away there.

Honestly, our health has a beneficial effect on those around us. That is why I’m writing this now because as a lover of gift giving, I’ve found one of the best gifts to give: my own health.

As I’ve thought through this topic and had conversations about it, I’ve come to see a couple different ways that our health is a gift given to others.

IDENTIFYING THE CORE

Growing up for me, using the words emotions or feel were treated like swear words. Claiming that you were struggling in your faith was almost as if you were publicly declaring, “I’m leaving the faith!” Saying things like, “I feel like God is saying this….” or “This passage makes me feel like…,” were deemed heretical. But, the older I’ve gotten—the healthier I’ve become—the more I see how God created us holistically.

When God created man (Genesis 1), the scripture gives us four words that are so key to catch: In. His. Own. Image. We are created in God’s likeness. This means that we mirror His image. If we are created in His image, is it all parts of us, except our emotions? I think not. God made us with emotions and feelings. I agree that we should not base or make decisions primarily on our feelings and emotions. However, the fact remains: God created us in His image, with emotions.

Throughout my 30 years on this earth, one thing I’ve learned is––how I feel matters. Now, don’t get it twisted, my feelings are not the primary piece of my life. But, how I feel tends to dictate how I think and that leads to the way I act. On the journey toward sexual integrity, just focusing on outward behaviors is not the best course of action. Been there, tried that, didn’t work, felt shame, tried it again, didn’t work again.

I remember when I realized that it’s not looking at the actions and making adjustments that create change. It’s finding what’s at the root of that action: what is motivating it; what core belief is driving it? The thing I found out is that my emotions are a great indicator of what is at the core of my issues.

How does this fit into my health and the gift that it gives to others? It does this in a few different ways.

It helps me discover the core beliefs that motivate sinful behavior and then helps me avoid it. When I avoid sinful behavior, it keeps hurt from others.

It also helps me model what it looks like to work at the core of the issue, showing others how to do the same. This gives me understanding and an opportunity to help them identify the cores issues motivating their sinful behaviors.

Lastly, it helps me find the areas of my soul that need the good news of the gospel. This helps me see the need for the gospel on a daily basis, allowing me to practice preaching the gospel. As I preach it to myself, it gives me the confidence to preach it to others; impacting the parts of their soul that need the love and grace of Jesus.

By modeling how to better identify the core of my issues, I show what it looks like to address those issues effectively.

CREATING FUTURE GIFTS

I have a 2-year-old son. That means, I spend a lot of time thinking about him, about his life, about his future. This has been one of God’s greatest gifts to me, seeing life differently as a father.

As I’ve become accustomed to the father filter in my own life, I have spent many recent hours thinking about how to best shepherd this little soul in my house. What does he need me to show him? Teach him? What is it that he needs from me in order to live his life the right way, following Christ, and living in freedom?

Like I’ve said, I’ve come to see that my life––the way I think, feel, and act––is the greatest tool I have at my disposal to teach my son how to live life the right way. Will I do a smash up job and shepherd a perfect little angel? NO WAY. My life is still messy and full of sinful pockets. But, if I can be characterized by living in a healthy way––addressing the sin in my life head on and effectively––I believe that my son will pick up on my approach to life.

As I live this life (Lord willing), my son will learn to see the world through the lens I give him, the filter I share with him. How I process my pain, difficulty, and struggles in life will directly impact my son. I have to keep this in mind, not just in how I react in the moment, but also in how I proactively improve my holistic health (spiritual, emotional, physical, sexual) on a daily basis.

If things go as I hope they will, my son will grow up understanding what it means to live a life that is open, honest, vulnerable, and, ultimately, healthy. And in doing this, I’ve helped to create another gift for someone else.

I’m already praying that God will impact my grandkids, great grandkids, and great-great grandkids because of the work He is doing in my life. I pray that God gives me the ability to model what a healthy life in Christ looks like so that generations to come will be characterized by reproducing more and more healthy followers of Christ.

THE BEST GIFT TO GIVE

Now that you’ve taken me at my word and 100 percent agree with everything I’ve written (haha), you now have a great gift to give others in your life. Sure, get your son that drone from Amazon. Go get your wife those ceramic what-you-calls-its; she’ll love them, I promise. But don’t discount the gift that you give others when you pursue sexual health, spiritual health, holistic health.

Embrace the spirit of giving this season. Give left and give right. Give great gifts. Do it! Just keep in mind that your health is the greatest gift you can give someone you love.

Give it away!