Rather than the happy holiday it’s piped up to be, Christmas can all too often be a season of stress and strain, spending time with people you would probably prefer to avoid. God’s plan was that family would be a safe refuge where we are nurtured and loved. However for many, family is a place of pain or pressure.
Perhaps you have a strained relationship with your parents or a sibling that seems to specialise in spite. You may have moved on from particularly difficult days and somehow feel that Christmas drags you back. It could be that everyone around you gets fraught or fractious trying to pull off the perfect day.
Maybe this time of year is a hurtful reminder of how much you miss the one who has gone. As the days draw near, you’re trying not to think about another landmark alone. When someone we treasure is snatched from us, it can be feel cruel to even contemplate celebrating.
So how do we get through the festive season without being bruised along the way? How can we come out the other side feeling that Christmas was more safe and secure than we had suspected it would be? I want to share three keys that will help you through the holiday period.
Have you ever reviewed the plot of a movie because you want to know what happens in the end? Perhaps you have peaked at the end of a novel because the suspense was too much? In contrast, in real life we often avoid facing the future. However, just as knowing how a story ends can relieve unpleasant suspense, so facing what the future holds can help us cope.
If you will be spending time with someone who has hurt you, I want to encourage you to take the matter to God before you go. Picture that person in prayer and tell the Lord what happened and how it made you feel. Pour out your heart before Him. For some there will be tears as you offload your pain in His presence. Others will let out anger that you have harboured within. Most of all, ask Him to relieve your stress and heal your soul.
If you’re entering the holiday season without your loved one, again, go to God beforehand in prayer. Picture yourself at the dinner table without them beside you and ask the Lord to take your pain away. Share your sadness with the Lord and ask Him to fill the void. The Bible promises that He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. He wants to dig deep and remove sorrow from your heart. Restoration after the loss of a loved one is usually a journey. But each healing encounter in His presence helps.
Let it go
Someone once said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison hoping the other person will die. When we hold anger against someone who has hurt us, we bind ourselves to the pain of the past. Bitterness builds within, adding insult to our injury. Holding upset doesn’t help us, nor does it really punish them. The Bible teaches that the only one who wins is the enemy. We open the door to his destructive schemes.
Think about the people you will see over the next few weeks. Is there anyone you are angry with? As your Christmas gift to God (and to protect yourself) let it go. Come to God in prayer and tell Him that you forgive those who have hurt you. Name them one by one, tell the Lord what they did and then vocalise your forgiveness. Soon you will be able to see their faces without flinching.
Put on love
I struggled for several years relating with a family member who had repeatedly hurt me. I was wary about reunions in case I left wounded once again. Then God gave me a strategy. I learned how to cover my vulnerability. The Bible calls it putting on love. Before any meeting, I would picture myself wrapped up with love. I would remind myself that my role was to give and not to receive. The change was remarkable. I was no longer so worried about what they would do but instead preoccupied myself with with how I could be more like Jesus.
Why not do the same? Wrap yourself up in God’s love and ask Him to help you to show patience and kindness. Ask for wisdom too, it might be best not to go breezing into a lions’ den!
My blogs deal with different heart issues to help get you ready to fulfil your God-given destiny. If you would like to be free to be your best, get my book 30 Day Detox for your Soul (available at Amazon) and join us at our transformational event Healed for Life (see jonaughton.com/healed-for-life/ for details).