When Family Gatherings Cause Anxiety
Although many of us live for family times, not everyone looks forward to the holidays and associated large gatherings.
Christmas dinner may trigger anxiety either because of unresolved family issues or due to new developments. There is something about the continuity of family traditions that raises the stakes.
My heart broke for a close relative who skipped Christmas one year rather than tell us that her marriage was breaking up. She later told us she feared judgment, but also didn't want to swallow her pride. She assumed everyone thought her life was perfect and we would be shocked to find out otherwise. What a needlessly lonely time that Christmas Eve must have been? Of course, we eventually found out and loved her just the same as before.
Some family hurts go beyond trampled pride or inconsequential tiffs. Where deep offenses reside, the holidays don't necessarily heal. They merely force estranged relatives into the same rooms for a few hours. No home is large enough to escape the pain of a broken relationship. Proximity to unforgiveness or unconfessed sin can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety both for the one who feels hurt and the one may feel wrongly accused of sinning against the other.
Pray in advance of your family celebrations. Pray into specific situations that you know about. Ask for God's help to be a peacemaker. Ask Him to use your party or celebration to mend broken hearts and reconcile estranged family members. Be careful not to throw gasoline on the burning embers of an unresolved conflict. If you are a person who likes to joke around with siblings, make sure that "jokes" aren't subtle ways of poking at old wounds or making one relative feel less than others.
Prince of Peace
Make Jesus the center of your family gathering. The Name of Jesus brings peace wherever it is spoken. Reading the Word of God (even in short sections) brings the Living God into your home. Let His Word penetrate your event. Make it more than just a gift grab or an overeating fest. Make it a celebration of the coming of The Lord to our Earth.
Take Nothing For Granted
We never know when a meeting will be the last time we enjoy the company of others. Life is fleeting and we won't have endless opportunities to love those in our own family. How surprised we all were when my brother died unexpectedly at 46-years-old. Hug everyone like you understand just how precious and fragile is life. Make sure all of your flesh and blood know just how much you care about them.
Thanks to all who made this a very fun year for me. Getting into the author/book business has been a life-long dream. You made that possible. It may seem like a small thing to buy a $15 book, but to authors, it is an affirmation that we may be on the right track. For those of us who dream of loving God through writing, it means the world. Keep praying for me, and I will do the same for you. May all your dreams of helping others come true in 2018.