Every year, people gather together with extended family members. Some enjoy a meal together. Some watch the football game, enjoy a few beers and riotous yelling in front of the big screen in Uncle Sam’s den. Women typically flock to the kitchen – some gossip, others stand by in silence. And others catch up with a few while avoiding those who don’t meet their personal standards or those they seem to have had a falling out with.
- of family and community
- of being so closely knit together that you know what may or may not be going on in the lives of those you see once or twice a year
- of being scrunched under one roof with forty of your closest relatives for the next three to four hours
- of possible drama
The list goes on.
And I can hear a collective “ugh” coming from some of you.
And be thankful for what you have been given
I’ve discovered that there is so much more to these holiday gatherings than what meets the eye. Being a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, I’m called to be more than what the world sees. I’m called to love in spite of differences. I’m called to forgive in spite of how I am treated. I’m called to so much more that the world doesn’t understand.
So what if a cousin raised her voice at last year’s turkey dinner?
So what if Uncle John left early without saying goodbye?
I’ve been learning that I cannot control the actions of others. I can only control myself – how I react and respond. I have a choice. I can choose to allow Jesus’ love and mercy to be extended to those around me (and not just family) rather than put up walls and be stand-off-ish. I can choose to love my family in spite of myself and maintain that love after spending four days in the same house with them. On another note, I don’t know what each of them are really going through. All I can do is pray for them and see them as valuable. They are, after all.
A challenge for you: Instead of avoiding the people you call family, take some time to really catch up with them this year. Pray for them and their needs; offer to. Love on them and if you don’t have the strength to do that, ask God to do it through you. That is what they need most.
I’m thankful for all of our differences.
I’m thankful for the power of forgiveness and what happens when love is extended.
I’m thankful for the healing that the grace of God can bring to a relationship.
And I’m thankful for you, my extended family. May God continue to bless you and keep you, not just today, but all year through.