Portrait of Jessica Shipton smiling at Cattai National Park

How Believing in Santa Reminded Me to Have Unashamed Faith

I remember growing up believing – both unashamed and without a doubt – that a big, fat man wearing a red suit with a white beard was going to park his sleigh and reindeers and give me presents each year. (Who am I kidding, I remember being in high school and still believing this).

My sister and I were the only children on the school bus that unashamedly believed in Santa. We would spark weekly debates on the bus trips home with other kids our age, and sometimes even younger, that Santa was real. They were adamant that he wasn’t, but we weren’t going to let them tell us otherwise.

“He’s real! Just trust us!” we’d confidently say.

“No, he’s not! Have you ever seen him?” the chorus of children would aggressively sing back to us.

“Well, no. But just believe us!” we’d fight back.

Our parents went the full hog when it came to Christmas time. We had a Santa Claus beard in our dress-up box that they pulled bits of white hair out of and stuck in the door, as though he’d gotten it caught when dropping off our presents.

They shovelled horse poo into a pile, next to the white, spray painted ‘sleigh marks’ to indicate that the reindeers had left us some presents too. The cookies and milk left out for Santa were gone and there were remnants of the carrots we left for the reindeers outside.

The brief questionnaire that inquisitive and curious little Jess made for Santa each year was filled out with messy writing (obviously, because he was in a rush delivering presents to all the good children).  See, I wasn’t lying when I said ‘full hog’. Don’t even get me started on the Easter bunny.

Admittedly, they went above and beyond, and personally, I think they had way too much fun doing it all. They actually did so well with it all that they ended up having to convince us that Santa wasn’t real, instead of us asking them about it, which I assume is what most kids do.

Some people might be reading this wondering why parents would bother going to so much effort. Heck, with children knowing that Santa isn’t real as young as six-years-old these days, or never believing at all, people may even say that it is cruel to be “lying” to your children.

But why? The magic, awe, and wonderment that revolved around Santa is something that I will always remember and I hope that my children can grow up experiencing it, too. Maybe not until they’re 12 though…

Sure, it’s a bit deflating finding out that it is, in fact, your parents putting something under the tree each year. (Found this out last week; still getting over it). But to this day, Mum and Dad still label our Christmas presents from ‘Santa’ and it reminds me to be unashamed and unapologetic about my faith in the One I cannot see. The ‘One’ being God.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” – Hebrews 11:1 (NIV).

I’m going to get real with you for a second. It’s hard to believe in something that isn’t standing right in front of your face. Having faith isn’t easy. It can actually be the hardest part about having a relationship with God.

But on a bus full of people shouting and telling me that God wasn’t real, would I sit there in silence, allowing them to convince me that my faith is based on a lie? Or would I unashamedly speak out and stand up for what (and Who) I believe in?

Would I remain quiet, or would I confidently share how my faith has shaped my life? Would I cave into words of the world, or would I show them the Word?

There is so much awe and wonder in the small things that my Creator shows me in nature, as a promise of His love for me. Why would I want to keep that to myself?

I encourage you to intentionally choose to have unashamed faith. Your love for Jesus should not be something you are scared about sharing. It shouldn’t be something that you are embarrassed about. Be confident in Him and unapologetic about how much you love Him, and how much He loves you.

Don’t cave into what the world wants you to believe. Don’t listen to the voices telling you otherwise. Trust me, there will always be those voices. Instead, be proud of your faith.

I don’t know whether you ever believed in Santa, the Easter bunny or the tooth fairy, but I want to encourage you to stand firm in your belief.

You may not be able to physically see the One you believe in, but I pray that your faith in God mirrors how I believed in Santa growing up: unashamed, unapologetic, unhidden and made manifest among others.

Keep smiling. x

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