Spending time with family who do life differently is hard. But don’t run away from hard family relationships. Show up and love this holiday season. By contributing writer, Lisa
The holiday season is on its way and I am so excited. I think I get more excited each year as our children get older and new babies join in the fun. Sharing the season with them is the only gift I really want!
Granted, my boys are very excited at the prospect of adding new Transformers to their collection, and I am very excited about getting that little trampoline for my toddler to bounce on. But, most of all, we are looking forward to simply being together and remembering Jesus throughout the Advent season.
Of course, the holidays are usually occasions to gather with extended family as well. For many, it is also the only time extended family gets together during the year.
We had a tongue-in-cheek joke in my family when I was growing up– during the holidays we would get together and cook a feast of wonderful food, but then no one would feel like eating because all stomachs would be in knots. Being together was just too stressful!
It’s a sad reality that one of the effects of sin is disruption to family unity. I understand this reality all too well, and I am sorry that many of you likely do too. While gathering together should be a time of rejoicing, sometimes simply being in the same room causes anxiety, or worse, discord.
This holiday season I have been encouraged and challenged to approach sad or difficult family situations with extra love and grace. And I want to encourage you to do the same.
Don’t run from the hard relationships. Don’t think you always have to guard your children from the rough edges in your family.
Show up and LOVE.
Model to your kids how to love in hard places, even when love may not be returned. As you teach your children about how Christ came as a baby this Christmas, teach them also about how He always exemplified love and forbearance and taught us to do the same.
When you feel discouraged, overwhelmed, or simply unmotivated during the holidays, let these encouragements help to inspire you to persevere and find joy in loving and serving your family.
3 Practical Encouragements to Show Up and Love This Holiday Season
1. Do the next thing.
My husband often reminds me of this principle when I am feeling overwhelmed about things I want to accomplish or about my kids.
When it comes to the holidays and spending time traveling or with family who do life differently, it is easy to become overwhelmed when we begin to consider all potential issues or everything which needs to be done. Some planning is certainly wise, but too much dwelling on the what-ifs usually leaves us paralyzed with anxiety or concern.
Rather than dwelling on who might be offended, or what disagreements might take place, or how your kids will handle the change of pace, focus on what is right before you now. Do the next thing and put your energy into doing it well, with love and grace.
Train your mind to dwell on truth and not the what-ifs:
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
2. Believe the best.
Often, when others have repeatedly demonstrated the same tendencies or struggles, we in turn start to expect and anticipate the negative behavior before it has even taken place. A surly attitude is read into a text message. A look is given more meaning than was intended.
Giving people the benefit of the doubt truly goes a long way. Be intentional to check your attitudes and perspectives. Work together with your spouse to remind each other to refrain from hasty conclusions or judgmental spirits.
Expect good things. You never know just how much a little optimism could brighten up your holidays!
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
3. Outdo one another in love and joy.
A pastor recently encouraged us to put this into practice in difficult family situations. Especially when we spend time with those who do not know the Lord, believers should be setting the example for being full of joy and love.
Make it a point to seek out ways to serve your family during the holidays. Let your speech be full of kindness and your hands full of industry.
This isn’t always easy because we all still struggle with selfishness and sinful attitudes. But this time of year provides us with countless reminders of our greatest example of humility and service. Jesus who was most gloriously exalted in heaven (Isaiah 6), left His throne and took on the form of a helpless baby in a manger, wrapped in rags and surrounded by stable animals.
The One who humbled Himself to the point of a servant is the One we should mimic during the holidays and beyond. When you struggle to find joy in service, consider Him.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
I hope that your holiday season is full of love and peace, and most of all, full of the Savior. Merry Christmas, friends!
How do you practically seek to show love to your family during the holidays?
Other Posts You Might Like:
- A Call to Serve Even When it’s Hard
- Missions are not Just Overseas
- 31 Family Traditions for a More Intentional Christmas