Sometimes the best moments in our lives happen to us out of the blue. We don’t plan them or seek them out. We go in without any expectations and we don’t try to force anything to happen. These special moments just show up—unexpectedly. So how can we have more of these moments with our families during the most stressful time of the year?
I love the holidays. I find great joy in gathering around a table with my loved ones, reminiscing about God’s faithfulness throughout the year. I get excited about all the holiday season stuff, especially the food! I don’t like the drama that comes with it all. “Leave it at the door,” I say. But let’s face it. All people are messy—especially family—especially me.
Somewhere along the way, I developed a picture of the perfect family. I don’t know about you, but I imagined a mother, a father, children smiling, all dressed to perfection—all matchy-matchy. In my mind, divorce, hate, anger, unresolved issues, grudges, comparing, competitive, illness and hurt did not interfere with family relationships.
It didn’t take long for me to discover this picture perfect family didn’t exist. Read the Scriptures and you won't find one there either. Yet, God used all sorts of families for His purpose. He loved and wanted them all—all broken, messed up and in need of a Savior.
Many of us need to let go of our ideal family pictures. Instead, we need to hold on tightly to Christ. We need to remember we have a Savior who has saved us from ourselves. Without Him, we don’t come close to ideal.
Yet, because of His love, God has taught us that broken, messy families still need each other. Why? Because we have to have other people in our lives to help us grow. Life involves relationships. God wants us to learn to love Him and to love others (Matthew 22:36–40).
Within our families, we have the opportunity to love each other unconditionally. And when we love like this, we will experience a deep joy when we discover God’s work through us. Our family moments will no longer focus on our selfish expectations, but instead they will thrive in what God has asked us to do.
So what has God asked us to do? Here are three suggestions:
Serve. We serve God when we serve others. Our culture defines greatness in terms of prestige, possessions, and position. Unfortunately, we tend to bring this definition into our families. Instead of falling into this trap, we should focus on serving each other. The heart of our families will show others what a family of God truly looks like; “You can tell what they are by what they do” Matthew 7:16, (CEV).
Affirm and accept. Did you know everyone desires affirmation? People will do almost anything to receive it. Our heavenly Father affirms and loves His children exactly the way He created them. When we affirm others we demonstrate God’s love to them, we show them acceptance. What’s the best way to affirm someone? Scripture says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” Romans 15:7, (NIV).
Hope in Him. Romans 15:13 says, “May God, the source of hope, fill you with joy and peace through your faith in him. Then you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (GWT). God, our only source of hope, will never disappoint us. When we place our faith in Him, he provides joy, peace, and hope that overflows. We need all of this in our family relationships.
I hope and pray that the best moments we have during the craziness of the holiday season will include family. Together we can trust and believe God “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). Somewhere along the way, we can develop a picture of the kind of family God wants us to be—serving, accepting and hoping in Him.
To read more about how to prepare for a peaceful Christmas, click here.