Holidays & Faith Transitions
This time of year can bring up a lot of emotions and feelings for someone who is either right in the middle of a faith crisis or religious transition and even for someone who has already gone through this process. This time of year can also really amplify differences and/or discord that you feel in relationships with others. Among the myriad of ways that one might feel during this time of year...a real discomfort or even disgust with traditions that used to be so dear can also come up. If any of these were some of the ways you have been feeling during the holidays this year...you are not alone. The way you feel about long held religious traditions, the way you relate to others in these dynamics and how you are feeling within your own experiences are worth digging into a little bit. And if it’s not something you feel you can resolve right now.. .by the end of reading this article... hopefully you are able to give yourself the gift of a little bit more understanding, because understanding what is going on for yourself is the first step to being able to bring about change. Making peace with religious traditions.
Wherever you are on the spectrum of faith crises or transition, you may find that you are responding differently now to some of these traditions or Christmas rituals that once brought joy or peace. Take some time to write down or contemplate what those traditions were/are (e.g. acting out the nativity scene with your children, going to Christmas concerts, decorating your home, baking Christmas goodies, attending Christmas parties). Now take a few moments to reflect on what you love(d) about these traditions... and also reflect on what feelings are coming up now as you have either participated in or chosen not to participate in certain traditions or rituals. Take inventory of the relationships in your life. How have your relationships shifted during your faith crisis and/or religious transition? Does the shift feel “bigger” during these holidays? Do you notice a bigger reaction either within yourself or in how others are treating you? Can you pin it down by naming an emotion that is coming up for you around important relationships? You may have caught on to the theme of this blog post...but making room for the feelings that come up around higher intensity experiences is important and it will give you the permission to just plain FEEL. We are all going to have big feelings around these sorts of things and the sooner you can start allowing yourself to feel...the sooner you can move through that emotion and out the other side. So take time to identify what is going on inside yourself on the feeling front during these holidays and give yourself some grace...you will get to the emotional respite you so desire once you are able to accept what is already happening for you right now.
Emily Celis, LMFT specializes in adult individual mental health services for anxiety, depression and mood disorders, religious transitions, LGBT+ related issues, body image, substance abuse, self-esteem, and gender specific issues. She offers in-person and online services for adults and is also trained to work with couples, families, children and adolescents.