Many people look at the holiday season as a time of joy, wonder, gifts given and gifts received. Others find much more inner struggle when the holiday months begin to come near. These people are torn with emotions of stress, frustration, disappointment, or fear of the interaction with distant family, friends and situations that require close proximity with those people that are difficult to deal with due to a difficult past of miss-communication and misunderstandings.
This holiday season can be a new opportunity to finally experience the joy and bliss available to those that see holiday celebrations as a time to reflect, serve, listen, forgive and surrender. These words previously mentioned tend to make the hair on the back of many peoples necks rise with discomfort, as these character disciplines are not easy to live out in the midst of challenging people, especially family members.
What would a perfect holiday celebration look like to you? Ideally, many would desire laughter over funny stories of the past, close and meaningful relationships with siblings and parents, discussing our life's successes and struggles, then to receive encouragement and praise for your personal triumphs. Games, food, fun and lightheartedness are all aspirations to us as we move into the celebrations of thanks over Thanksgiving, into Christmas and joyfully to Easter. These are occasions dedicated to the ultimate expressions of joy, love and hope to the believer, yet why are we missing this inner revelation and sacrificing our opportunities to experience the highest expressions of joy within these celebrations? I know that this next statement may not be easily accepted, but I believe that the reasons we struggle with constant fear, dread, resentment and frustration with our friends and family over the holidays is due to our own inner reality that is to heavily focused on self and the desire to have it our way!
Having that said, the "self" tends to always hinder the best God has for us within relationships, both to Him and to others that He has placed in our lives. If we are ever going to really find the joy and fulfillment within the relational sphere of our lives here in earth, we must start with the inner man as expressed through Jesus Christ in the book of Mark.
Mark 12:31 And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. King James Version
This understanding, once applied with intention and the help of the Holy Spirit can completely revolutionize every relationship that we have. This simply means that certain character disciplines that are evidence of unconditional love in a believers' heart are expressed outwardly and abundantly to those around them. As mentioned before, the disciplines such as gentleness, forgiveness, patience, peace, surrender and others offer a diagram from Heaven that can lead us to prosperous and fruitful relations over stressful seasons such as the holidays.
I want to encourage those of you that really fear seeing and interacting with certain people over the following months. Allow yourself the time to really understand what you are afraid of with certain individuals and pray that God would direct you in your response to them. God promises that love never fails, and when we can look at that difficult person with compassion, an understanding to their inner struggles, and offer a listening ear followed by encouragement, the fear will dissipate more and more, and that individual will likely follow suit. If that person remains a difficult case that continues to bring you fear through abusive language or insinuations, you can quietly excuse yourself from their presence and allow them the time alone to begin discovering their inner battles.
Now is the time to set yourself free from any bondage that holds you back. Your freedom rests in the obedient surrender to God's anointed Spirit that allows us the privilege to be servants, and to edify our family and friends to bring out the best in them. Once you have begun the journey of fruitful service and surrender, some neat steps can be made to really create positive memories to replace the difficult past.
- Establish new traditions that integrate all ages and groups involved in the gathering such as games, stories, jokes, memories, giving thanks, cooking, etc.
- Make the effort to promote others and validate them in front of the group
- Get creative in designing an atmosphere that is peaceful, fun, bright and comfortable with the help of your guests.
These are some simple ideas that can generate quality communication and lighthearted unity and to offer a safe platform for a harmonious holiday celebration for all that attend.