The following is an email devotional I wrote for the ladies of our small group.
Only one week until Christmas – can you believe it?
I was thinking the other night about how whenever you are around people… family, friends, coworkers… it can sometimes cause stress. I love that Christmas is a time for family, but I know that sometimes there is a family member that just is harder to get along with than others. There are a few things I think that I think we all need to remember before the holidays.
The first is forgiveness. Before you go home for Christmas, make sure to spend some time with the Lord, asking Him if there is anyone you need to forgive. Remember, you will never feel like forgiving; it is a choice. Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die – you forgive to free yourself. You can even use this prayer if you would like:
“Heavenly Father, please reveal to my mind anyone I need to forgive.”
“Jesus, I choose to forgive (name) for (action) because it made me feel (emotion). Today I ask you to bless that person with all spiritual blessings.”
I know that when I have gone through that prayer and forgiven people, it changes my perspective. I suddenly am able to see that person as Christ sees them, which then allows me to respond to them in grace and love. It is amazing how freeing forgiving really is. You are never more Christ-like that when you forgive.
Another thing to be aware of has to do with setting goals. Say you set a goal of getting everyone to the table for Christmas dinner at noon. But Uncle Bob is late, and it’s now 12:15. Your goal has now been blocked, which leads to anger. So Uncle Tim goes out looking for him. Now your goal of even having everyone at the meal is unsure so you become anxious. At 1:30 you get a call from Uncle Tim that he has found Uncle Bob – who is eating a microwave dinner and watching infomercials. Your goal of having everyone around the table is now impossible so you become depressed.
The point of this little scenario isn’t that you can always count on Uncle Bob to ruin a meal, but to realize how to set good goals. A good goal is a goal that cannot be blocked by anyone but you and God. It is a good desire to have everyone at the table at noon. However, it’s ok to not have a perfectly planned meal as well. And if Uncle Bob decides he would rather eat Marie Calendar’s, then while disappointing, don’t let yourself get angry, anxious, or depressed. So if you start dinner a little late, take a deep breath and go with it. And if Uncle Bob doesn’t show, it’s ok to eat without him. Choosing good goals will lead to joy, peace, and patience.
And most importantly, give grace. A little grace goes a long ways. If you find yourself getting stressed out, or responding poorly to a blocked goal…
- Take a deep breath.
- Ask God for help in how to be Christ-like in the situation.
- Ask yourself how the other person might be feeling at the moment. Put yourself in their shoes.
- Think about it. What really is the root of your problem?
- Talk it out calmly.
- Forgive quickly.
Don’t let any of these things steal the joy of family time from you! Let’s all be proactive this Christmas, ladies!
I am praying that all of you have amazing times with your families, though. I hope that you do not have to use any of this, but if you do, know you are not alone – Jesus is there to help you know exactly how to respond to a tough situation, just ask Him!
You are all amazing and I pray that you have a beautifully blessed Christmas! May Jesus show you the depths of His love for you even more in the coming weeks!
Love you all,