Thursday, April 25, 2024
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Lessons From The Mistletoe

CC Photo Courtesy of Jason Eppink via Flickr
CC Photo Courtesy of Jason Eppink via Flickr

I entered the doorway of our company staff party, looking up at the mistletoe above the door. How could a simple little plant provoke a flirtation and an innocent-enough kiss? I paused for a moment, only to realize that there was no one on the other side of that door who, in my opinion, was “mistletoe-worthy.”

There would be no kissing today!

I spent forty hours a week with these people, and on the Friday night of the obligatory holiday staff party, I most certainly didn’t want to kiss any of them. The thought of double-dipping my carrot in the veggie dip was a scary-enough thought. So as I stood under the mistletoe, I noticed no one was rushing to embrace me, and I would have another dreaded year of singleness, which was especially amplified during the holiday season. I began to resent that little mistletoe. As I did an emotional wrestling match with my cynicism about being single yet another year, I started to realize some valuable lessons.

Reminder #1: Stop Making Your World about Work

My emotional world had become about work. I lived and breathed deadlines and a never-ending “to do” list. During the rest of the staff party, I watched my co-workers drink themselves into a flurry of bravado stories of their work accomplishments. I yearned for the days of spontaneity and adventure, but instead, even my spare moments were being absorbed in work details. That evil little mistletoe (yes, my cynicism was winning) was a reminder that the fun aspects of my life were evaporating like a mist. I needed to get a life and to stop drowning my dissatisfaction in work. If I wanted to meet people, I had to get “out there” and away from work.

Reminder #2: Don’t Give Up Your Happiness

I had become haggard and was burning out on an emotional level. Attractive people are happy people, and they glow with inner satisfaction. Somewhere along the way I had made myself so busy that I forgot to say no and set limits. I kept piling on the work projects in an attempt to distract myself from my lack of a personal life. Essentially, I had given up my happiness by becoming consumed with work. I needed to get myself back again and find balance between work and play. All work and no play really is boring!

Reminder #3: Make Room for Laughter

I was becoming comfortable with a level of cynicism and sarcasm. In simplest terms, I resented happy people, and I stopped laughing. Somewhere along the way I became so responsible and serious that I forgot to play in the adventure of life. I couldn’t even make it through a door without analyzing a poor mistletoe, and I lived with this heaviness of being single, waiting for someone to release me from what was becoming an emotional prison. Even I wanted to take a vacation from myself. I overthought everything and needed to get back into the spontaneity and adventure of life. In fact, I needed to clear the emotional clutter and seriousness in my life and learn to laugh again.

Then I did it—I entered through the doorway and learned to play in life again. I was way too young to make my life about work; instead, I needed to make my emotional world larger by meeting new “mistletoe-worthy people.” In fact, I needed to leave all of this seriousness behind me.

Now, many years later, I am married, but I take a break every month as I remind myself to play again. Life is an amazing adventure, and work can take over if we let it. Now I make sure I have that play time with my kids, just to feel and be in life. People like me make simple mistletoes complicated with overthinking, so sometimes I just need to smell the roses, grind up the coffee beans or enjoy whatever is happening in the moment.

About Cathy Patterson-Sterling

Cathy Patterson-Sterling is a Christian counselor with a counseling ministry called Real Life Tool Box. She is an author, speaker, wife, mother and friend. Through her counseling ministry, she offers more than 50 e-learning audio play courses to help people grow in faith and have their healthiest relationships. She is passionate about helping people find freedom from fear or other emotional strongholds that are holding them back from living out their greatest potential in God's plans for their lives.
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