Holidays were a big deal in my house when I was growing up and cause for family to gather together around the table and make for an all day event. It didn’t matter if it was President’s Day, Patriot’s Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas. Any reason for the family to gather was a holiday and reason to celebrate and eat! I have so many wonderful memories from family time around the holidays, but this is not so for many people.
For so many, holidays are a stressful time. Whether it be because of bad memories, childhood disappointments, the death of a loved one, broken relationships and a list of other reasons, the pain is very real. The reason behind celebrating the holiday is clouded by the self imposed pressure to be perfect, an already overloaded schedule and the agonizing struggle of having to spend time with relatives and acquaintances you really prefer not to see.
Several years ago, I was preparing to speak to the women of our church at a Christmas breakfast at the Marriott Hotel. I had prepared my message for days and was ready to share it with the women. The night before the breakfast, I woke up in the middle of the night with these words, “Tell them to Love their way through the holidays.” I got up and began to write furiously and I want to highlight just a few of these thoughts with you with the prayer that these words will encourage you and bring you peace to enjoy this season of celebration.
1. Remember that God’s love is in you.
“This hope will not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
You may find yourself with some challenging people this season.
The Holy Spirit was sent to fill our lives with love and to enable us to live this life of love by His power. We cannot do it without His transforming power at work in us which enables us to love. We just need to walk it out. There is no need to ask Him for more love - you already have it residing in you. Choose to walk in His love especially when dealing with difficult people.
2. Forgive and let past offenses go.
“Great peace have they who love your love your law; nothing shall offend them or make them stumble.” (Psalm 119:165 AMPC)
Whatever you feed will grow. If you continually meditate and think about how people have wronged you, that offense will grow to a size that will occupy your total thought life and paralyze you. I always say that it is easier to remove a thought when it is in the seed stage instead of when it is an oak tree size thought. Offense is a trap - its been referred to as the bait of satan. It is bait to get you stuck in a place that is harmful to your well being and to cause you to be totally ineffective for God. Don’t fall for it!
It's easier to remove a thought when it is in the seed stage instead of when it is an oak tree size thought. Offense is a trap.
3. Control your inner environment.
“My heart is glad and my inner self rejoices….”Psalm 16:9 (AMP)
No matter what environment you step into this or any holiday season, you can control the environment in you even when you can’t control what is going on around you. Prepare yourself with prayer, praise, worship and reading God’s Word. You can literally arm yourself with spiritual weapons that will put you in and keep you in a place of joy in your heart.
4. Remember that hurting people, hurt people.
“Take my side God, I’m getting kicked around, stomped on everyday….I’m proud to praise God; what can mere mortals do to me…” Psalm 56:3,4
There comes a point when we just have to accept people for who they are and for where they are in their lives. Without a doubt, hurt people truly do hurt people and some aren’t even aware that what they are saying and doing is bringing pain to others.
I do my best to take the posture of prayer in these situations because I know that God’s perfect will for them is to be fully free. People who hurt people have not experienced full freedom in Jesus. Lets pray that we can be part of the solution to their freedom and not react to their negative behavior.
5. Add value to people’s lives.
“A gentle tongue with its healing power is a tree of life.” Pro 15:4 (AMP)
There are so many small ways you and I can make a big impact on people’s lives. Words are one of the most powerful tools we have to really add value to people.
Most people are starving for some positive affirmation. Practice noticing positive things even on the most negative people. The rich color of someone’s eyes, a specific article of clothing, the taste of the food, something they said in conversation that you can compliment, the shirt they are wearing. Pick out something positive to bless them with your words. If nothing else, thank them for inviting you to their home.
Do something kind. People remember kind people and their gestures.
As you enter this holiday season, and all the other holidays throughout the year, try to keep things simple. Definitely do not go into debt. This isn’t a contest we are in. Its an opportunity to open our hearts and homes to people and to truly focus on the reason for celebrating.
Enjoy the holidays, family and friends to the fullest. Put the stamp of God’s love on people and it will increase their value. Because of your influence, people have the potential to go from ordinary to extraordinary. Gift people with your love and His.