Surviving the Holidays

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. These words could well have been written about life during the holiday season. It can seem like the holiday season is made up of a wreath of special moments and cherished memories intertwined with hurt feelings, misunderstandings, loneliness and tremendous frustrations.
People get frustrated, if not downright angry, when their dreams and wishes for the holidays are blocked or if the events unfold contrary to their expectations of how things should be. Tensions within families can run high. Where should we spend the holidays? When and how should the presents be opened? Why should they get to relax while I labor at making preparations? The list of colliding thoughts, values and expectations contributing to the boiling point seems to be nearly endless.
What can you do to improve your holiday experience? Here’s a few thoughts appropriate for those who call themselves members of God’s family.
1) Do not wait for someone to invite you to their home, invite them to your home
The Golden Rule encourages us to take the initiative in doing for others what we would like them to do for us. Instead of allowing self-centeredness to swallow up our thoughts, plan how you will be a blessing to others (Lk. 6:31).
2) Reach out to those who are poor as well as the lonely
While it is not a sin to invite those to our parties who have means or who are our friends, we can serve God and model Christian values to our children by reaching out to those who do not have ability to return our invitation (Lk 14:12-14; Rom. 12:16).
3) Forgive the past and let go of previous grievances
Unfinished business swirling up from feelings of past favoritism, resentment over long-standing injustices and just a whole host of other interrelationship matters can sour and destroy time together. God’s people are to forgive others. Yes, life can be unfair and others have at times acted out of dark motives as we too are not innocent in all matters. But as children of God, we are to forgive and not bear a grudge against others (Eph. 4:32-5:1; Lev. 19:18). This is not just for their benefit but also for our own well-being.
4) Know how to respond to frustrating situations
While those who demand their rights and feel “I should be able to ____” will only increase the pressure within relationships to the breaking point, the peace maker responds by seeking the well-being of others in the same manner he seeks his own. Perhaps the wisdom of overlooking an offense will be needed (Prov. 12:16). Perhaps there will be the need to reevaluate just how important an issue is. A hundred years from now will it really matter if we do it this way or that? Perhaps letting others have their way this time would be an appropriate response.
During this pressure cooker season, we have a wonderful opportunity as God’s people to remember what is truly important and strive to bless the lives of others. May your words and actions reflect our Savior’s values and will.

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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